Where is God when I'm struggling?
If you evaluate whether God is good based on the amount of suffering in your life, you might conclude that He isn't good. Similarly, if you judge God's love by how tough your life is, you might think that God doesn't love you. And if you measure God's faithfulness by the disappointments and grief you've experienced, you might start doubting His faithfulness. The key point is this: you will face suffering because it's a necessary part of God's good plan for you.
In Acts 20:17-24, the Apostle Paul emphasizes the challenges and trials he faced in his own ministry. He speaks of serving the Lord with humility and tears, enduring trials that came upon him. Much like Paul, the moments when life doesn't go as planned, when you're deeply disappointed, when you lose something, or when unexpected challenges arise, these moments don't mean that God's plan has failed. They don't indicate that He's forgotten about you, been unfaithful to His promises, or plays favorites. They don't suggest that sometimes God doesn't answer your prayers.
Paul's experiences in Acts show us that hardships and obstacles are not signs of God's abandonment but rather opportunities for growth and perseverance. Here's what we need to grasp and live by: these tough moments in life are not a failure of God's plan or an obstacle to His plan; they are a part of His plan. They're placed in our lives as tools for His ongoing work of rescuing, transforming, and delivering grace.
In Acts 20:24, Paul declares his commitment to testifying to the gospel of God's grace despite the challenges he faced. Similarly, we should remember that God's ultimate purpose is not just to make our lives easy and comfortable in the present moment. These challenges and difficulties are part of His divine plan to shape us for a greater purpose. They're in our lives because the God we worship values holiness more than our temporary happiness. He's not trying to give us a short-lived emotional high; He's working to produce something much greater—eternal joy.
The truth is, God doesn't adhere to my selfish wishlist. He hasn't committed to giving me everything I believe will make me happy. He hasn't promised to fulfill everything I've labeled as a need. He's not trying to make my journey between the "already" and the "not yet" as smooth as possible.
When one of His children faces difficulty, it doesn't catch Him off guard as if it were something unusual. Just as Paul faced trials and challenges in his ministry, we too will encounter difficulties. Walking with Jesus isn't a luxurious vacation free of responsibility and trials. It's not a vacation because our life with Him here and now isn't the final destination; He's not a Vacation Planner Jesus; He's our sovereign Savior King.
Therefore, our current life is meant to be a time of preparation for the ultimate glorious destination that will be our eternal home. So, our present life isn't paradise. Right now, God, in His grace, is using the challenges we face in this fallen world to prepare us for what is guaranteed for each and every one of His children. Just as Paul remained committed to testifying to the gospel despite his trials, we too can find strength and purpose in our difficulties, knowing that they are part of God's greater plan for our lives.