Authored by Dan Roselle
I thought my life was going pretty well. Although there were daily struggles and difficulties, I felt my relationship with Jesus was improving and growing, which to me was most important. I was thrilled with my renewed connection with Jesus through my prayer times and my recently reinvigorated hunger for the Word and Bible study.
Then it happened.—The car accident in April (2011).
While driving, my wife and I had been listening to some devotional messages about the nature of Jesus. We were having a wonderful time talking about our personal relationships with Him and how we were looking forward to the future and where Jesus might lead us. We definitely weren’t expecting the sudden change of mood when a car, skidding out of control at high speed, crashed into us and destroyed our truck and trailer.
At the moment of collision, all sorts of thoughts flooded my mind. One of the first thoughts as I saw the truck door cave in and the windshield cracking in front of me as we were thrown off the roadway was, “Did I do something wrong? Is God mad at me?” But honestly, that thought passed quickly as I knew that, as the Bible says, Jesus loves me and all things work together for good to those who love Him.1 So I didn’t have to worry about that. When the truck came to a stop and we jumped out, thankful to be alive, we both felt, “Well, God must have more for us to do, since He spared our lives.”
In the past, I admit that my first thoughts when problems came up, such as sickness or a serious difficulty, was that I was probably being punished for something wrong I had done. I believe that this is a common feeling for many people. This feeling paints the picture of a God who is out to punish us and is ready to give us a good whack the minute we step out of line; however, that’s not really the nature of God. God loves us.
God loves us so much that He sent Jesus, His only Son, to earth to die on the cross. You know that from John 3:16. Now if God loved you that much, do you think that He’d be waiting around for you to do something wrong just so He could punish you? I hardly think so! Jesus loves you and He wants what’s best for you. As a matter of fact, Jesus is crazy about you. That doesn’t mean that life will be an easy, smooth journey without any problems. Difficulties happen in everyone’s lives. What makes the difference, though, is your attitude toward difficulty. We need to learn to have the right attitude and a godly perspective on the seemingly negative things that happen to us. It starts with trust, trust in God.—Trusting that Jesus really is in control of your life and that all things truly do work for your good because you love God, just as it says in Romans 8:28.
Maybe you’re facing a problem or a difficulty in your life right now. Maybe you feel like your world is caving in. Maybe you’re wondering, “If Jesus really loves me, why does He make things so hard for me, why does He let these bad things happen in my life?”
I’ve also had these sorts of questions throughout my life, because in the past, I often thought that God’s love for me was contingent in some way on what I did or didn’t do.—Like I’d be winning brownie points with God if I read the Bible five times a day, memorized dozens of Bible verses, made sure I prayed for everybody in my family, at my workplace, my school, my city every day before even getting out of bed in the morning. Of course, those are exaggerated examples, but I did really think that some of God’s love for me actually derived from my dedicated devotional readings or my daily prayers. Although those are good things, they don’t enhance Jesus’ love for me. He just loves me.
I’ve been learning that Jesus loves me. Period. His love is not based on things I do or don’t do. He just loves me. This fact is stated over and over in the Bible, especially in the New Testament. In Romans 8, Paul said that nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus.2
If we can just accept that Jesus loves us as much as He says He does—which is unconditionally—it would make it so much easier for us to face the difficult and often life-altering events that happen in our lives. Instead of asking God “Why me?!” We’d be able to ask questions that show that we accept what is happening, like, “How does this problem play into the overall plan for my life?” or “What purpose do You have in this situation, Lord?” or “What does this difficulty provide an opportunity for?”
So much of how problems or difficulties affect us depends on our perspective of those things. You probably remember the metaphor that life is like a tapestry. As events happen in our life, it’s like we’re watching the back of a tapestry that is being weaved together. It looks confusing and messy. There are knots everywhere, loose threads hanging out, and random colors clashing with each other. But when we look at situations or periods in our lives in retrospect, it’s like viewing the tapestry from the front side; we see a thing of beauty! A picture or pattern takes shape with colors blending seamlessly into each other. We don’t often get to see how the various threads of the things we go through fit into the overall pattern, but we can be sure that because Jesus is the weaver of our lives, the events we experience are not random. We can trust Jesus that He knows what He’s doing, and regardless of what we experience or come across, He can use those things for our good.
Life, your life, is not always what it seems to you. You may look at your life and all the difficulties that you face and wonder if Jesus really knows what’s going on with you. Does He really have a plan? Sometimes it takes years to discover what that plan is, once you see how things have turned out.
I remember one time in my life, many years ago, when I was bothered and upset about not receiving something that I thought I needed and wanted and deserved. I went to the Lord and for a long time I poured out my heart to Him, pleading with Him, almost trying to convince Him to give me what I wanted. But I didn’t get it; in fact, Jesus clearly told me that He wasn’t going to give it to me because it wasn’t part of His plan. Then He said that 10 or 15 years down the line, I would see clearly why He wasn’t going to allow me to have what I wanted. Wow! That is a long time to wait to see the reason. So I chose to trust, and sure enough, many years later, I saw the reason why God didn’t allow me to have what I thought I needed, wanted, deserved.
So how do you get to the point where you can have that sort of perspective, that perfect trust in God that regardless of what happens, you know He’s in control and can make all things work for good in your life? You know the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, when they refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s statue.3 They knew what price they’d have to pay for that decision—imminent death in a fiery furnace. They hoped that God would deliver them from death, but they didn’t know for sure if that was His plan. They said, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But if he does not, we want you to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”4 They chose to trust that God was in charge of the situation and would take care of them one way or another. And of course, we know the outcome! Into the furnace they went, where they had an awesome meeting with the Son of God, and then out of the furnace they came without even the smell of smoke. Amazing!
So when you find yourself in a difficult situation and you don’t really know what’s going to happen, and things look dark and gloomy, instead of worrying about what you did wrong to deserve it, or wondering why God is dealing you such a low blow, choose to trust Him. Take time to commit the circumstances to Jesus and then leave it in His capable hands.
As the weaver before the loom, God will continue to make the tapestry of your life, and even though you may not understand what picture He’s creating right now, one day you will look back and see that all He does is perfect and beautiful. And you’ll be glad you chose to trust Him.
1 Romans 8:28.
2 Romans 8:35, 38–39.
3 Daniel 3.
4 Daniel 3:17-18 NIV.
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by Simon W. Copyright © 2012 by The Family International