Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
I did it. I finally moved – multiple states away. There will be many stories to tell from such a decision, but for now, I’ll focus on the dress. As I was getting ready to leave, there was a sale from a store I really liked, so I ordered this green dress. Considering how close it was to me moving, I knew I was taking a risk, but the risk seemed low. Clothes from this store usually arrived within 3-4 days, which left me with some extra time. My plan was to get the dress, pack it, and ship it with the other items. Of course, the dress didn’t come in time. To make matters worse – the tracking information provided wouldn’t even give me the arrival date. So, I packed my boxes (along with some help), and my luggage for the plane, and figured – this might be a loss.
Nevertheless, the dress did arrive, but after the movers had left. I would now have to make this dress fit into my already-full carry-on luggage. Surprisingly, it did, but I was still annoyed. When I arrived at my new destination, the moving truck showed up on time – but the unloading crew did not. I ended up having to wait for a few hours, and then I had to run additional errands. Bottom line, I didn’t have a lot of unpacking time, and I had to work the next day. I clearly did not think this plan through enough. Anyway, when considering what to wear for the next day in the midst of all these boxes, I realized I had a save – I had that dress. I didn’t need to worry about finding clothes because I was already work-prepared. I saw my situation as imperfect, but God had made it good.
The Idea of Perfect
God knew what I didn’t; I would need that dress. My problem was that because I couldn’t see that ending, I led with negative emotions. I could’ve been thankful that the dress showed up before I left. Afterall, it did fit in my luggage. I could’ve felt gratitude for my money not being wasted. Instead, I chose to be overwhelmed because I did not get my way. I thought – I’m going where God wants me to go – shouldn’t that mean that everything goes perfectly? As I pondered this situation further, I came to the following realization: the word perfect is self-defining when applied through an imperfect, human lens. It’s not that we aren’t allowed to have desired outcomes, but we leave no room for God’s adjustments.
Scripture tells us in Psalm 18:30: As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. We should find peace in God’s adjustments, but it can be hard to imagine God’s way as perfect when we are met with life’s complications. Sometimes, we’re so caught up in what we want, that we forget it is God who is direct our steps. Maybe He is the reason that we’re being called to adjust. Yet even Psalm 23:1 can be a difficult promise to understand when it says: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want, because we do find ourselves wanting. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that God has said no. Sometimes it takes years before a yes comes to fruition, but trust that your answer was decided long ago – it just needed God’s perfect timing.
Psalm 23 ends with verse 6 which says: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever. It’s a conditional statement when you consider the first verse – the Lord is my shepherd. A shepherd takes the lead; the sheep follow. We all have shepherds, it’s just a question of whom? Who are we following, and if it’s God – what does goodness mean when our situations leave us frustrated?
Well, if we base God’s goodness strictly on the circumstances we can see in front of us, we might find ourselves in a bit of spiritual trouble. The Bible states: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) We must have hope to increase our faith, but hope can feel risky when we’re afraid of being letdown. We fear experiencing sorrow, anger, and disappointment – understandably so. These emotions are uncomfortable and challenging. At times, even consuming. But what if we said to those emotions – you’re allowed to be here. In this life, we need those parts of us to help process our situations, but they are not the only emotions that have a seat at our table.
While He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He didn’t cast aside His emotions. He sat with them. He allowed them to exist, and when they grew to be too overwhelming, He leaned on God in prayer to carry Him through. In those moments, Jesus had sorrow, but He also had determination. He had pain, but He also had hope, because hope isn’t about producing the results that we want. It’s about trusting that God’s goodness will deliver the results that we need. I’m not sure that Joseph thought prison was in God’s goodness. I don’t think that the Israelites saw traveling through the desert as being in God’s goodness. Even when Noah was building the ark, God was making space for others to be in His goodness – but most couldn’t see it.
Making the Best of Our Situations
That’s because without faith, we miss out on our best opportunities. Without patience, we’ll lose the war because we’re too focused on the battles. Without accepting the parts of us that feel uncertain, uncomfortable, or sorrowful, we’ll put our energy into avoiding them, instead of working through them. We have to learn how to make the best of where we are, and here are a few ways:
- We consider the words that we say and how we speak about ourselves & situations. Our words and thoughts have power, and we must intentionally not feed into the negativity. Happy endings can still exist.
- We find healthy coping mechanisms. We journal. We workout. We allow ourselves to cry and experience sorrow and pull ourselves out through gratitude and the choice to stop complaining.
- We spend time in worship with God. When we don’t know what to do, we ask – and then we wait. If we feel low, we put in even more time, allowing the Holy Spirit to move us, instead of us trying to move Him.
Lastly, We cling to what is good.
As we do this, the scriptures tell us that we should be “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;” (Romans 12:12). Normally, we want our tribulations to be over quickly, with minimal discomfort. Should the days grow long, however, our minds start to wander, and it’s hard to keep clinging to what is good. I’m thankful, however, that Psalm 23:6 points out that God’s goodness is mixed with mercy – because we need both. We don’t always get it right. Sometimes, it’s hard to make the best of our situations, and we falter.
The important part is that we get back up. Today’s disappointments have no bearing on God’s ability to deliver tomorrow’s joys. It is darkness that would have us to believe that the sorrow we feel now, can never be undone… that peace is unattainable… that happiness is unreachable… and the only part of us that exists, is darkness itself. Such is not the case. John 1:5 tells us that light shines in the darkness, so we have no reason to fear it. When we don’t know where to go next, all we have to do is ask. The darkness cannot hide God’s goodness, and when we receive it, I pray we always recognize it.
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