As a Biblical counselor I have worked with a number of different people in a variety of circumstances. Most of the people with whom I have worked wrestle with whether or not God is at work in their circumstances. They are dealing with difficult circumstances and typically have been dealing with them for some time. Like Job we come to a place where we wonder if God really is actively at work in our situation or whether He has somehow lost sight of us. At one point in his suffering Job asks God to meet with him, and offers to “help” God understand what is going on. Job knows God is good, but Job looks at his circumstances and concludes that God must not be aware of everything that is going on. If God knew what was happening, Job believes He would act to remove Job’s suffering.
We wrestle with the same thing. We sometimes wonder if God is at work in our lives. We do not see God doing the things we want or expect in our trials, and we are tempted to move into the role of “helping” God to know what He ought to do. Our prayers attempt to “guide” God into what we think He ought to be doing, or we hope He will do. Paul Tripp and Tim Lane in their book, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hand, point out a very helpful truth. They tell us that the problem is not that God is not working. God is always redemptively active. He is always doing something good. The problem when we do not see God at work is not that He is not working. The problem is that we do not see what He is doing. We never need to open His eyes to what He needs to do. He needs to open our eyes to see what He already is doing. Our prayer should be that God will show us that He is with us and that He is at work.
When we believe the truth that God is at work, and that in the middle of our trials and suffering He is already doing something redemptive, we do not have to possess the power in ourselves to make things better. Instead of trying to manage our circumstances we can focus on doing the things God calls us to do and being the people God calls us to be. We do not have to focus on the outcome, which is beyond our power to accomplish. We instead focus on obedience and follow God with integrity regardless of what the outcome may be.
Letting go of control over what we want to happen is tough, really tough. Seeing God as a loving Father who cares for us in the midst of our suffering challenges our view that God exists to make our life pleasant. That picture cannot stand up to examination. It is not a Biblical viewpoint. God exists. He is accomplishing good. That good encompasses the trials and suffering in our lives, in the lives of those whom God loves and cherishes. The proof of that statement is found on the cross. Jesus lived, suffered in His life and death, and He saves us from sin and eternal death.
The place to look to see God’s work is not in how He takes away our pain and makes our lives pleasant. Rather, we must look at the cross. He lived a life that we could not. He died a death that we should have died. He paid the price for our sins and failures so that we belong to Him. He continues to redemptively work in our lives and empowers us with His strength to grow and live obediently. We are here for a grander purpose than our comfort. We exist to serve God and to build His kingdom. Look to the cross and hold on to Him.