God Is at Work in the Ugly
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content (Phil. 4:11).
I don't have answers to life's questions. God knows I have many, many questions. I long for Him. I want to understand Him. I want to follow Him. But, if I am honest, I also want life to be stable, predictable, and easy. When hard days come, I want to immediately see what God is doing and explain it to myself and to others.
If you've read my story, you know my life has been anything but predictable or stable. Yet, way down deep, I have still clung to a secret hope that somehow I could make it be. I like order. I like predictability. I like to feel like I am in control of what the day will hold, but life for me—and many of us lately—has been anything but predictable and easy.
Making Beautiful Out of Ugly
A few years ago I went for a walk around our little farm with my niece Riley. We noticed the change in the season as the cool air hit our faces. Leaves and dried blackberries were falling to the ground. Fallen persimmons were rotting into the earth. The ground was turning brown and crunchy with all the decaying matter. I explained to Riley how God would make something beautiful out of all the ugly, dead stuff the coming spring. I told her we couldn't see what God was doing but that deep down under all the decay, He was at work.
That walk and those words came back to my mind recently. It seems every news story and every conversation with friends and family is full of hard, heartbreaking things that are far from beautiful and seem so utterly out of control. I remembered telling Riley, "God is still at work even when things look ugly."
A Persistent, Hold-On Hope
My mind raced to my own ugly times—like losing my husband to suicide—and other times when I honestly felt like giving up. In the midst of the heartache, I couldn't see what God was doing. Still, He whispered a persistent, hold-on hope and asked me to believe He was indeed "doing." My eyes could no more see His hand than I could see a flower being birthed under the rotting leaves that fall day with Riley.
Sometimes it is seems like forever to wait on spring in the dark days of winter and even harder to wait on God when we desperately want answers, our hearts are breaking, and nothing seems to be in control. It is difficult to the point of exhaustion, but it is not impossible for those who are determined to keep following and trusting God.
He has given us (yes, given us!) a gift of faith (all that we need) to be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Heb. 11:1). He has always been in the business of bringing beauty from ashes, and His Word is full of the incredibly hopeless finding real, stand-on, keep-going hope. Indeed, His greatest miracles came from the most desperate of situations, and I expect they still do.
Trusting God in the Trial
Yet, it is in the very midst of the trial, in our weakest-of-weak, that our faithful Father asks us to surrender our will to His and believe He can still do great things for us, in us, and through us. When we finally lay down our conditions and expectations for how things should turn out and say, "God, I trust you more than I trust me; I believe you are at work even when I can't see you," it is then that we find incredible, amazing, hope-filled, hold-onto peace that makes no earthly, logical sense.
Oswald Chambers said, "There is only one thing you can consecrate to God and that is the right to yourself" (see Rom. 12:1). The enemy may have intended what you are walking through for evil, but God alone can bring good. Keep your eyes on Him. This hard road you are walking may be the only way someone else sees the only Savior of souls. The awful situation that you or someone you love is enduring may yield a depth of love for our Lord that could come no other way.
It is in reckless abandon to God—not predictability or stability or ease—that He tells us we will find rest for our souls (see Matt. 11:29–30). So keep reading His Word, keep praying, keep seeking encouragement from other believers, and keep hoping in the God Who is at work in your life for your good and His glory.
Oh Lord, help me to lay down those things which keep me from experiencing your peace. Take my right to myself, my day, my calendar, my expectations, my need to control, my desire for stability and predictability, even this heartbreaking thing, and help me to live in reckless abandon to You. May I give glory to You no matter what this day brings. May I only desire to stay under the shelter of Your wings, for you are my rock, my protector, and my comforter (see Ps. 61:3–4). Amen.
Written by Kim Jaggers