I must confess up front that while I feel this topic is good one for discussion, I am a little hesitant to write this blog. How do I ensure it gets received in the right way and I do not overstep boundaries which are not mine to cross? Let me make it clear that I am not a Pastor, nor do I hold any degrees in higher education. In fact, I am probably the guiltiest party I know of these elements. I use this topic simply as a testimony of my experience. I hope someone may be able to come closer to finding answers he or she may be seeking in their heart.
So, what is the topic? Well… the manner in which I go about finding or searching for answers which I desperately seek in my heart.
There are so many hardships which occur in a lifetime. Loss of a loved one, physical injury or disability, the collapse of a valued relationship, financial devastation, loss of self-worth, or any number of other circumstances can bring us to the point of utter and complete desperation. I cannot speak for other people, but for myself, I have found during these times I would often end up questioning God. “How can someone who loves me forsake me like this?” I would ask.
The point of this blog is not to explore a specific question, but instead, I want to share the process I use to conduct my search for answers. In my life, I have found the answer to anything about how to live my life are either in the Holy Bible, sermons taught from the Bible, or from wise authors who imparted their knowledge which is backed up by the Bible. I think you can see the common thread of truth which holds everything together for me. However, just because I know where to look, does not always mean I know how to find what I seek.
With the help of a few mentors and a great deal of self-assessment, I was able to identify a few key elements that were continually getting in my way of finding truth. These topics seemed to be obstacles or blinders which would prevent me from seeing the answers I seek.
Prejudice- It was not uncommon for me to immediately take a self-righteous viewpoint. I would say, “I am different from anyone else and my problems are entirely unique.” So, I might find the answer, but then I’d immediately “justify” it away. I thought my situation so different from others and their problems that the solutions “didn’t apply” to me. It is different; or more complicated than that,” I would think. I later found this to be completely false.
The answer to any problem in someone’s life can be found within the infinite depths of knowledge and wisdom shared with us through the Holy Scriptures.
Avoidance- Another issue that arose all too often was I might locate the answer needed but would conclude that the actions required on my part were often too unattractive to me. Maybe it would be something which would hurt my pride. Perhaps I would be forced to accept a point of view I found in contrast to my own (meaning I had previously been wrong *gasp*). It is possible something I have been hiding until this point would no longer remain hidden in the process of enacting the answer I found. “This solution might cause me more harm than good, so it couldn’t be the right one,” I would think to myself.
False Justification- I used to think myself so smart that I always create my own solutions. I would then spend a good portion of my time finding things within the Bible to help me justify “my” answer rather than seek the true one. Often this meant reading things out of context.
I have learned if I open my Bible determined to find words which sound like justification for my own worldly views, then I would often be creative enough to find them.
The truth, unfortunately, would be lost in this practice as I would use verses out of context and purposely omit little words here or there. If I left them in they might get in the way of making the answer “I wanted” seem correct.
The worst thing about false justification is I sometimes used it to convince other people I was right. At least close enough to right that they would support my efforts. My research would seem logical and believable, but it was tainted from the beginning by my desire to guide it to my desired outcome.
Any one or a combination of these principles would ultimately lead to more heartache, more turmoil, more struggle, and then I would find myself questioning God even more. How foolish and arrogant to believe I was smarter than God and his word.
I cannot tell you I have mastered what I will share next, but once I began using the following concepts instead, my life changed instantly. So, how do I try to question God’s purpose in my life today?
Humility- The first thing to remember is my own best efforts and decisions are what landed me in whatever mess I am in. If I am so smart, then I would not even need to seek answers to my questions in the first place. The very fact I need to find an answer at all, shows I do not have them all. So, maybe, just maybe, I am not as smart as I think I am. God’s wisdom is vastly superior to what mine ever can or will be. Once I accepted this I was able to humble myself down enough to ask “Lord, I do not need to know the whole picture, I just need to know what it is you want me to do right now?”
Clarification & Verification- I have learned the first answer I find may not always be the right one. I would rather ensure I get the right answer than the first one. So I learned if a solution is truly coming from God, then I will find an example in the Holy Bible. Each time I see what I might be looking for, I will go through and read the entire chapter, maybe even the entire book in the Bible. Whatever it will take for me to completely grasp the context and message the author was trying to convey. This process may take a little more time to accomplish, but it often brings me some much-needed peace and confidence about the answer.
In this way, I can see a bit more clarity about how I can apply the solution to my situation. It is almost like being able to take my problem to wise friends and hear their suggestions to help me formulate the best action I should take.
This peace helps me feel confident because I have now verified this is the right thing to do.
Open Minded & Steadfast- Perhaps the hardest part of finding many answers to the real struggles in my life has been to accept that even if the answer is right, I may not personally like it. I need to resolve to trust in God, trust in His word, trust in His will and plan for my life. The truth is far more important than whether or not I am going to enjoy doing whatever it is I am supposed to do.
I must resolve myself to have the steadfast courage to follow-thru, whatever it is. This concept may be the single most common trial and test I struggle with in my walk with God. The more I do this, though, the more I see His designs bring His results. Not just to my life, but to the lives of my family, friends, and even people I had not considered at all. When I see firsthand what He can do with just a little faith and action on my part, it makes me want to give Him even more.
Luckily there is quite a bit in the Bible talking about this type of courage. So, if you are like me, and this is one of your weaknesses, I might suggest starting with a story about a small shepherd boy named David. He was able to take down the greatest warrior of his age, a giant named Goliath.
So, in closing, I will pose a question. “Why on Earth would God allow these instances where we question him, his purpose, and even his existence and identity?”
I think this something everyone will ultimately have to answer for themselves, but for me… Each time I feel doubt in Him, I have learned to seek His answer with the utmost conviction. I seek Him more with an open heart and mind longing to hear Him. Each time I do find the answer, I grow more confident in my faith. Every time I trust His actions I see His results. Sometimes, I even find myself excited to see how He is going to use something which would usually look like a horrible event. I become excited to see how He will turn it into something more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.
There have been and will be, times in my life I simply can’t make it on my own. In those moments, I feel there is an evil force seeking to sever my relationship with Jesus. Each truth I find has served only to strengthen my bond instead. In a way, it almost seems like Satan is doing his very best to convince me God is not loving and merciful. In seeking God’s ways, I allow the Holy Spirit to use the Devil’s tricks against him. I merely drive further into the loving arms of my Heavenly Father, and growing in my trust an relationship with His blessed son Jesus Christ!
I used to feel frustrated God did not reveal Himself to me. Then I learned how to see Him. I do not see the wind when it blows, but I can feel it, and I can see it moving the trees and the grass around me. I can see God not by seeing “Him” but by looking for His results.
Never lose Hope, always keep your Faith, and God bless.