Do you ever doubt that you are in God’s will because things aren’t going smoothly? When I hit bumps in life, one of my first reactions is often to think I must have made a wrong decision somewhere along the way. I start to fear that I’ve “missed” the best somewhere for my life and I can’t ever get it back. After all, wouldn’t God be continually blessing me with a smooth path if I were in His will?
Recently, however, individuals in the Bible who were clearly in God’s plan, but experiencing rough times have been apparent to me. Daniel, Jeremiah, and John the Baptist are a few that come to mind. And now, just after the Christmas season, Mary really stands out to me. Luke 1:42 says she was blessed among women and yet at the time she was carrying Jesus inside her, the challenges she was facing would have to make her feel anything but blessed. The realities of her life (mourning the possible loss of the marriage she had planned on, wondering about the stigma of being an unwed mother, almost every relationship in her life being in jeopardy) had to contrast sharply with the message of “highly favored one” (Luke1:28) that the angel gave to her. Only Mary’s amazing faith caused her to respond to God’s plan for her, not just with compliance – but instead, JOY at her situation. She even wrote a poem expressing her gratefulness to God that He would choose her for that path (Luke 1:46-55)!
Clearly, when we are facing opposition and challenges, we do have to examine our lives to make sure it is not our own sin that is causing or contributing to these problems. But these witnesses in Scripture remind me that being in God’s perfect will doesn’t mean that things are necessarily going to be perfect and imperfect situations don’t always mean that I went down a wrong path. Consider Jesus, who followed His Father in every respect and yet still encountered suffering and opposition. I shouldn’t let my less than ideal circumstances burden me with doubt, but look in expectant faith to God.