Have you ever been in a season where absolutely nothing goes right? You accumulate more bills than you actually bring home from your income. You spend hours studying for a test and still end up getting a D+. You put in hundreds of applications and all of them deny you of the job opportunity. Your sister gets killed in a tragic car accident. Your mom dies of cancer. The love of your life walks out on you. You get evicted from your house. You can’t provide clothes for your children. You hope for better days but each day that passes by ends up having you in the same exact circumstance that you were in the previous day. You don’t think it can get any worse but it does. Even describing it as a season doesn’t even seem like the right word to use anymore. The so-called “season” is starting to feel more like a lifestyle. You express your feelings to God but it appears as if he isn’t listening or doesn’t care. The prayers that you plead to him seem to only go from the floor that you kneel on to the ceiling where it reaches its climax. You see great things happening in the lives of your peers and you try and be happy for them, but it’s extremely hard. You try and keep a smile on your face everyday, but that’s hard as well. And the smile that you are able to show is just a temporary mask of the pain that is hiding on the inside. The pastor preaches that your “breakthrough” is coming. Your friends also try and encourage you by telling you that your time is coming. Your mother, your brother, your coworker, your neighbor, they all offer words of encouragement. It’s all going to get better. A blessing is on the way. Just keep doing good—keep being faithful to God. But what if nothing ever changes? What if that breakthrough never comes? What if this season spans on for the next ten years? Does that mean that life is over? Does that mean that joy will never be found? Does that mean that you will forever be incomplete?
I’m currently in a season where nothing is going right, well at least that was my way of thinking of it. It all started after I finished my last class of my college career. Everything was looking up for me. I was finally done with school for good. All the years of studying, taking exams, and writing research papers were about to pay off. I was finally going to be making big time money. I was already planning in my head about what I was going to spend my first salary check on—a whole new wardrobe. I spent the following two weeks applying hard for jobs, like five jobs a day type stuff. Nobody contacted me back. I spent another two weeks repeating the same process, still no offers. Denial emails started flooding my inbox. I didn’t think too much of it though. I knew of a lot of people that experienced the same setbacks within the first few months of graduating college. I just kept right on applying. One month turned into two and two months turned into three. Discouragement started creeping in. Not only was I not getting any job offers, I wasn’t even getting interviews. Granted I was still employed with another company making decent money, but I dreaded going to work. I hated my job with a passion. It was a very depressing and mundane environment and I was ready to escape it. I just needed to get that new job. On top of that my girl walked out my life. Letdown after letdown, this was a real low point in my life. I was extremely depressed. It wasn’t depression where I wanted to kill myself. It was more of a since God isn’t looking out for me in my time of need that I was going to start looking out for myself type depression. I indulged in porn and drank alcohol hoping to get drunk. There were plenty of days I would get off of work and go straight to sleep. Most of the time I wasn’t even tired. I just didn’t want to be involved in the struggles of life. Sleeping is where I felt at peace; the worries were gone and I was free. Looking out for myself was never satisfying though. It was just a quick high. The porn video would eventually go off. The state of being intoxicated would eventually fade away. Too much rest would eventually cause me not to be able to sleep. I knew that Jesus was the true satisfaction, but it was hard for me to accept that in my current state of being let down. All I wanted was for him to answer my prayers. All I wanted was to get a better job. All I wanted was to get my girl back. All I wanted was joy.
What I wanted wasn’t wrong, but I failed to see the true source of it all. At the end of the day God is the creator. The stuff that I wanted on my prayer list was a part of creation. What the creator creates is called creation. The job that I wanted was a part of God’s creation. The girl that I wanted so bad to be back in my life was a part of God’s creation. The job that I couldn’t stand was a part of God’s creation. After more months of letdown, I started to see this picture. Questions started filling my head. Was I more obsessed with who God was, or was I only obsessed with what he could give me? I’ve had seasons where everything was going right. There was a four month span in my life where I was blessed with a new job, a new place to live, and also a new car. God seemed to care during that period of my life. Was I only judging that based off of the blessings that was being given to me though? Because at the end of the day the same God that was with me during that season of my life is the same God that is currently with me in this season where nothing appears to be going right. He cares about me now just as much as he cared about me back then. I’m actually very thankful for seasons like this. It allows us to point our focus back to the true source. Good times and blessings are nice, but too much of it tends to take our minds off of God and who he truly is in our life. His creation starts turning into our god, and the true God starts feeling more like a slot machine. “I want it so give it to me now God!” What if God doesn’t do another thing for you though? What if the last breakthrough that you had was going to be the last breakthrough that you will ever have for the rest of your life? Will God still not be good? Will you just abandon him? If you really think about it, God doesn’t have to do another thing in our lives. He doesn’t owe us anything. He already gave you the greatest gift of all—his son dying on the cross. So if it’s his will for you to be in poverty for the next twenty-five years, then let it be. That might be a hard pill for some of us to swallow, but God is all that we need. His creation is just a bonus. The things that he gives us are temporary. You can’t take the S-Class Mercedes to heaven. The three-story house with the white picket fence won’t be in heaven. The job that I so long for won’t exist up there either. God, the one that was with us in the hard times will be there though. He will never leave us now and he will never leave us when we see him face-to-face.
Was I more obsessed with who God was, or was I only obsessed with what he could give me?
So how do we deal with the hard times in our lives? How do we find joy in times of struggle? How do we find contentment when nothing goes our way? As cliche as it may sound, the only way to make it through these times is through the strength of Jesus. In Philippians 4 Paul talks about how he found the secret to living in every situation. He talks about it in Philippians 4:13. It’s one of the most famous and often misquoted verses in the bible. He says he is able to live off of nothing or with everything because of the strength that Jesus provides. With Jesus at the center of our lives we are able to make it through the trials and tribulations. But I need something more relatable. Jesus isn’t physically there with me through these rough times. I need a sign. I need a miracle. He might not be physically there in our lives but he definitely understands. If anything he is the most relatable person when it comes to our pain and suffering. The pain and suffering he endured on that cross is more than enough to understand our hurt and pain. And because he went through pain and suffering, he is able to provide comfort that nothing else in this life can give us. And through that comfort we will experience joy like never before.
“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.”
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