Authored by Dan Roselle
Life can be difficult—no matter what your age, what society you live in, what your economic status is, or what your family is like. Everyone faces difficulties, and when we’re in the middle of those rough times, it’s not easy to keep the perspective that, “In spite of all this, God is able to work things out and accomplish His greater plan.” Each of us, at one time or another, has wished for things to be better in our life. You may have heard people say something like (or you may have thought these things yourself), “If I had more money … ” or “If I lived in a different location … ” or “If I went to such-and-such a school … ” or “If I had a certain job … my life would be so much better!”
Perhaps such things would make life better, but perhaps not! Certain comforts do make life easier, but often what helps someone to face and overcome their difficulties is not those comforts or luxuries. It’s their perspective on the situation. A positive or negative perspective can be the determining factor as to whether one will overcome or cave in when life dishes out a raw deal.
Perhaps you have a friend, relative, or family acquaintance who is suffering from a serious illness, or has faced a death in their family, or had an accident or tragedy that was not their fault. It’s human nature to find yourself questioning or judging a person and their circumstances. Perhaps you have thought, He must be doing something wrong because of the bad things that are happening. Or, He is a good person and shouldn’t be suffering like this.
No matter how well we may know someone, it takes years (if ever) before we will fully understand why certain things happen the way they do in other people’s lives, just like we can be in the dark as to why some things happen in our own lives. But whether or not we can see it, understand it, or identify it, God has a plan in each person’s life. It takes faith to believe and trust God’s plan—for both our lives and the lives of others.
Let’s take a look at someone who faced some pretty big difficulties, yet allowed God to use them for His purpose. This story is taken from the book of Ruth.
Naomi was an Israelite woman who had moved with her husband, Elimelech, and two sons to Moab (a country in Bible times, located in present-day Jordan), at a time when there was a famine in Israel. Sometime after their move, Naomi’s husband died, leaving her alone with her sons. Her two sons eventually married Moabite women. One of her sons married a young girl named Ruth. After only ten years of marriage, however, both of her sons died, and, Naomi was left alone with her two daughters-in-law, without the men, who—in that age and culture—were necessary to support the family. Needless to say, she felt as if the Lord had turned against her. She said, “The Almighty has done evil to me.”1 Naomi felt as if her whole world had crumbled; she even told people not to call her Naomi, but Mara, which means bitter.
When Naomi decides to return to her husband’s ancestral home in Israel, she tells her daughters-in-law to go back to their families. However, Ruth, who had grown close to Naomi, boldly tells her mother-in-law in a very famous passage, “Please don’t tell me to leave you and return home! I will go where you go, I will live where you live; your people will be my people, your God will be my God. I will die where you die, and be buried beside you. May the LORD punish me, if we are ever separated, even by death.”2
If we look at Naomi and the many tragedies she faced, without factoring in God’s greater plan, we might assume that she must have done something to deserve all that happened to her. Or maybe we’d wonder if the move to Moab had been the wrong move.
However, reading this story many centuries later, we can know and understand that all these troubles, difficulties, and, as Naomi put it, “evils,” would eventually lead to good. The famine took Naomi’s family from Israel into Moab, to find a girl named Ruth, and back to Israel, to give Boaz the opportunity to meet and marry Ruth. As we know from history, Ruth was the great-grandmother of King David, and an ancestor of Jesus. But how could Naomi have known that everything would work out for good as long as she continued to love and hold on to God? She could only go on her faith and knowledge of God and how He cares and provides!
None of us can know the future or God’s plan for our lives. In times of difficulty, we can strive to do what we know is right, but in the long run, we have to trust God and flow with His plan for us.
When I think of some of the difficult times I’ve faced in my life—times of financial hardship, times of sickness, the loss of children, emotional stress—I too had to decide whether I would allow myself to become bitter and angry at God or whether I would trust in God’s love for me, knowing that He would work through the difficulty to bring about His will in my life. I’m glad I chose to trust Him, because now that I know the outcome, or at least some of it, I can see that He has brought so much good into my life!
You too may be going through difficulties of your own. You may be having a rough time with one or a few subjects in your school, or maybe you have moved away from friends and family. Perhaps you have lost a loved one, or are going through a heartrending breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Maybe you are experiencing a rough health problem. There are many difficulties—sometimes downright tragedies—that take place in our lives that we can’t understand and we can’t see any good in.
However, Jesus loves you. He cares for you. He is concerned about everything that happens to you. Because of His interest and involvement in your life, you can know that everything will be okay. God will work things out for your good as you look to Him and wait on Him. Like in Naomi’s story, you may also feel that God has “done evil” toward you. But as His child, you can be sure that He has a plan for you—that He can use the pain for your good, and no matter how difficult life might get for you, He is with you because He will never leave you nor forsake you.3
Trust in His plan for your life. Even if from your current perspective you can’t see what it is, He can! And that makes all the difference.
1 Ruth 1:20–21 GWT
2 Ruth 1:16–17 CEV
3 See Hebrews 13:5
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2012 by The Family International