"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV 1984)
Has God ever hurt your feelings? I'll be honest, sometimes I'll read those verses from Philippians listed above and think to myself, "This is a tough pill to swallow."
Content in any and every situation?
Several years ago my daughter was a state champion gymnast. To see her do gymnastics was like looking at God smile. She was beautiful, graceful, and captivating to watch.
One night while practicing for one of the largest tournaments she'd ever compete in, she fell. It was a move she'd done hundreds of times with the greatest of ease. But this time something went terribly wrong and that one mistake ended her gymnastic dreams.
We spent a year going from doctor to doctor only to be told she'd never be able to support the weight of her body on her injured shoulder again.
I'll be honest, this was heart wrenching. Watching a 14 year old girl wrestle with the fact her dreams were stripped from her doesn't exactly lend itself to feelings of contentment. Now, I know in the grand scheme of life, people face much worse situations. But in her world, this was huge.
It was so tempting to wallow in the "why" questions and tell God He'd hurt our feelings.
Why did this happen?
Why didn't You stop this God?
Why weren't my prayers answered?
Have you ever been there? Have you ever had a big situation in your life where you just couldn't process why God would allow this to happen? Or maybe even a small annoyance like losing your keys or having a flat tire on a morning you really needed to be somewhere.
It's so tempting to wallow in the why.
Asking why is perfectly normal. Asking why isn't unspiritual. However, if asking why pushes us farther from God rather than drawing us closer to Him, it is the wrong question.
If asking why doesn't offer hope, what will?
The what question.
In other words: "Now that this is my reality, what am I supposed to do with it?"
Philippians 4:8, "Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (NIV)
I like to call this verse "directions on where to park my mind."
And that's exactly what Ashley has had to do with her dashed gymnastics dreams. Instead of wallowing in why did this happen, I've had to help her say:
This is my reality, now what am I going to do with it?
What can I learn from this?
What part of this is for my protection?
What other opportunities could God be providing?
What maturity could God be building into me?
Switching from the why to the what question paves the road to parking our mind in a much better place.
Is it always easy? Nope.
But is it a way to find a perspective beyond situations where we feel God has allowed something in our lives we don't understand and we absolutely don't like? Yes.
I pray this helps you today. You can also download a free resource on how to change your why questions into what questions. Just go to my blog, www.LysaTerKeurst.com and click on the button "When God Hurts Your Feelings."
Dear Lord, I want to process everything I face in life through the filter of Your love. I know You love me. But sometimes it's just hard to understand the circumstances that come my way. I find myself consumed with trying to figure things out rather than looking for Your perspective and trusting You. Thank You for this new way to look at things. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Mentally walk yourself through parking your mind in a better place by remembering an event that happened this week and looking for God's protection, provision and process of maturing you.
Am I afraid to have honest conversations with God about how I really feel about some of my circumstances?
How might it be helpful to really talk to God about things that hurt me?
Why is it helpful to ask what now, instead of wallowing in the why questions?
Isaiah 55:8-9, "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.'" (NIV 1984)