Written by Paul J. Bucknell on July, 04, 2019
Viewing Your Difficult Past with God’s Sovereign Plan (cm)
Counseling Moments provide helpful insights from the Scriptures to help people move forward from their confusion and broken hearts to live in the full light of God’s grand redemptive purposes that He has for them in Christ Jesus. Exercises included.
“My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.”
Purpose & Plan
Help us to see that much of our confusion and lack of interest in spiritual things as a believer stems from an incomplete trust and dedication of our lives to God. By looking at the Psalmist’s example in Psalm 84, we can see where each believer needs to head and pick up insights on reaching that spot.
Reflections on Psalm 84:2— All of us for God
The Psalmist makes sure every part of his life is involved in the worship of God, His Creator. He methodologically notices and claims each part of his life—my soul, my heart, my flesh (body). It makes sense, of course. Jesus quoted from the Old Testament saying, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Mat 22:37). Our mighty God demands worship from our whole beings. The problem, however, is that we do not equally share the belief of the Psalmist for we often refuse to adore God’s sovereign and wise ways in certain respects to our circumstances. “If He loved me, He would’ve….” Just think how many worshippers each Sunday sit at worship services but in body only!
True worship calls us to roam through each scattered room in the house of our lives to ensure that each part of our lives is entirely claimed by the glorious redemptive purposes of God. This spiritual inspection of our lives includes rich and tragic memories and experiences which have significantly affected us.
We might not be so convinced as the Psalmist that God wants all of our being participating in worship for we excuse, perhaps unconsciously, various aspects of our being and histories as rightly handled by God. To help us along the way God exposes our weaknesses by bringing difficult times into our lives to expose the unclaimed and unholy places where there is no room for God. Let’s call this spiritual housecleaning—a longterm plan by God to present us holy.
From a positive viewpoint, this is our spiritual journey and by faith, we can enter each of these former, or perhaps present, experiences that we have typically shunned or blamed God. If we don’t have this biblical perspective, we feel burdened down as if everything is going bad. We see our Christian lives as a long ongoing battle with problems.
The Faith Challenge
Not one part of our lives as believers has been sidestepped by God’s overall plan for our lives. The Psalmist four times uses “the Lord of Hosts” to describe God’s sovereign power over every inch of this vast universe, both material and spiritual entities. The Lord has carefully orchestrated our time on earth, including each all the scenes from our past lives, in a broad but carefully sketched plan for our lives.
Consider your difficult times, those that very things we want to dismiss, reject, complain about, etc., as part of a grander scheme to display God’s glory in your clay vessel. (The Psalmist alludes to his troubles in 84:5-6.) Don’t exclude any misery, any painful moment, any tense relationship from the past or present as if God in His sovereign wisdom is not able to redeem and fully use it to display a greater grace in your life.
God’s Greater Plan
God brings us through these encounters only to bring us back to the full restoration of His plan for our lives. Don’t worry that you are not ready or good enough. God uses our broken vessels to display a greater glory of God. If we grasp how God has purposed to improve and use our lives, then we can more readily accept and take joy in that. Like Jesus Christ, God can transform our most painful experiences into places that increase His praise.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)
All of us for the Lord! Examine each part of our lives and invite the Lord into each area, even the barren and shameful places. For some of us, this understanding is radically new. We have been preoccupied with showing God our best (and so hide the worst) and are afraid of how to approach this whole area of our lives (one reason we hide our failures).
Here are a few suggestions.
First, when we realize that God has a greater good to accomplish from the bad scenarios of our lives, then we are more willing to admit our difficulties and seek Him for help in those areas. We go from denying or hiding to admitting. This is good. It is better to wrestle with a monster that we can see, though he is fierce, than that which we cannot see.
Second, God’s design to glorify Himself through our most embarrassing times gives us hope that we will not be rejected but transformed and somehow used. This hope plays a crucial role in the spiritual development of our faith. It is hoped that brings much turnaround about in our lives, especially if we have been dealing with disillusionment, discouragement, and depression.
Third, we cannot only be hopeful but practically expectant. We might pray,
“Oh, Lord, this problem has been a point of shame all of my life. It still is in a big way, but if you can somehow display a greater glory through my shame, then do it. I admit I have no clue how, but I will keep an eye on your work in my life so that you bring about your glory from my most difficult life experiences. Come, occupy this very barren place and make it a place for your glory. In Jesus Name, Amen.”
You will note the surge of faith in the above prayer. Our confidence is not in ourselves but God’s plan. Read the prayer and adapt it as necessary. The hope from this scripture that God can and desires to take our whole lives as His becomes the “little faith” to bring much change.
Our Life Task
Make sure every part of our lives have been fully touched by God’s redeeming love so that we can fully exult in our great Savior and Lord. When we feel weary or like giving up, take hold of that hope coming from God’s greater plan for our lives. From that hope, say a prayer and build up your faith in His plan.
Study Questions and Exercises
- Memorize Psalm 84:2 and note carefully what parts of the Psalmist’s life he mentioned.
- What does the Lord want with each part of our lives?
- Why would the Psalmist mention these particular areas of his life rather than just summing up his life as “I will worship you”?
- Identify a few dark places of your life—those experiences or thoughts that you tuck away out of sight as much as possible.
Acknowledge that God, the Lord of Hosts, has not made a mistake in allowing you to experience such unpleasant times but can transform it to bring greater glory. Identify a little hope for your life from this truth.