What you want for your life right now may not be bad, evil, or sinful. Maybe what you want is even in the plan for what God has for you. But it’s not what God has given you yet. And this thing is keeping you stuck, miserable, and ineffective.
I remember being introduced to a whole subgroup of married adults who were struggling with infertility. I had no clue how many couples struggle with infertility for years, sometimes resulting in the end of their relationship. I also was interested in the different responses of couples who were struggling. Some couples seemed to have purpose outside of trying to get pregnant. They still served in church. They still had fun as a couple. They still were actively working toward kingdom purposes. But other couples could talk about little else besides trying to get pregnant. The topic consumed their conversations. The struggle took over their entire lives.
This trap is not just for people desiring children. Many singles talk about little else besides wanting to be in a relationship, and many businesspeople talk about little besides their next deal. While there is nothing wrong with these dreams, they keep many people stuck in their struggles instead of figuring out what God has for them today. I once heard a great quote about balancing our desires with God’s plan: “God knows what we need, so if we don’t have something, it’s ultimately because we don’t need it yet.” God hasn’t accidentally put us in our current situation. He has a purpose, and He has a plan. It’s time to find out what that is.
When I was a child, I remember hearing in Sunday school that it was wrong to follow God just for the purpose of getting rewards in heaven. But let’s be clear about something: you and I like rewards because God created us to like rewards. God told us about the rewards we will have in heaven to motivate us to work for them on earth. There is nothing in my heart that inherently makes me want to be nice to people who cut me off on the highway. And that’s okay. It’s okay to fight to stay obedient to Christ, because God has promised to reward us if we do so.
The Bible promises us there are rewards in this life and in the next life for enduring hardship, staying faithful in the midst of suffering, and following Christ. James 1:12 tells us, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
Elisabeth Elliot, missionary and widow of martyred missionary Jim Elliot, had a profound insight into obedience. She said,
I would not be truthful if I did not admit that the price of knowing him, of putting faith in him, and of understanding who he is has sometimes seemed high to me… But neither would I be a faithful witness if I did not also say that it’s worth the price – it’s inﬁnitely worth the price – and that God will never fail you.
There is a point to our obedience. There is a reward for our obedience. The times you most don’t want to go to church, push yourself to go. When you’re tempted to skip your daily Bible reading and prayer, try telling God how you honestly feel. Even when we can’t see what God is doing, we can trust His heart. He is always working with our best in mind.
Ryan and Julia Sadler appear this Tuesday on LIFE TODAY. This is an excerpt from Pray Big Things by Julia Jeffress Sadler, LPC. Copyright ©2019 by Julia Jeffress Sadler. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Company. Used by permission.