When you wish things were different
What does frustration in life have to do with our theology? In this article, we’ll take a look at how God can work deeply in us through the trials of life, unchanging circumstances and difficult people.
Have you ever been frustrated by a lack of change in your life? Perhaps you long for a change in location, a relationship, job, or in some other situation. Wanting to see change in life is not uncommon. It’s easy to look at brokenness and discomfort in our surroundings and long for something different. However, focusing on our external environment and surroundings is not the best approach for change. Change begins with you.
As a follower of Christ, I cannot be dependent on my external circumstances to make me happy or determine my mindset. I’m called to something deeper. I’m called to believe that God has a plan and purpose for me, even in seasons that are difficult. Do I really believe in the sovereignty of God? If so, I know that things happen in His timing. I rest in knowing He is even using my mistakes and imperfections right where I am. There’s no place on earth that God can’t work. If I’m willing, things can always change, and that change begins with me.
What Doesn’t Work…
Some people seek change and purpose through a change in location. This is more readily observable in a small town. People move out of the city to a small town in order to find a change of pace for their lives. They’re often looking to be unburdened from their frenetic schedules and overly busy lives, and reconnect with their families. They’re looking for a change so they think a change of address will solve their problems. Unfortunately, they bring the baggage they were hoping to leave. When we leave a forwarding address, our troubles have no problem catching up to us.
Others think that the change they need will come from a new relationship. Discontentment and hurt can grow and fester in their relationships so they keep getting new ones. They think “This person is who I’ve been looking for. I’ll be happy with them.” Unfortunately the “right one” never seems to come along. Could it be that the key to relationships is not about finding the right one…but being the right one? Some people fail to recognize that the common denominator in failed relationships is themselves. It’s easy to shift the blame and think other people are the source of our problems.
What does my theology have to do with my discontentment or daily life? EVERYTHING.
A better approach is to consider what our unhappiness or discontent says about out theology. Could it be that our unhappiness is meant to point out our flaws, weakness, or lack of dependence on God? What does my theology have to do with my discontentment or daily life? EVERYTHING. We are all theologians. We are constantly putting to use what we really believe. Our actions, thoughts and decisions provide a constant record of what is really important to us, and what we really believe. Our beliefs are on display, whether we realize it or not. Many things can be known about God, but it’s what we believe about Him that makes all the difference. We may say “we know…” but our actions speak louder than our words. We may confess right belief, but our actions tell a different story.
Beware a Victim Mentality
When our lives are difficult, it’s easy to adopt a victim mentality. In our darkest times, we can seek out someone or something to blame. If we find ourselves saying things like, “if this person would do this” or “if these people would change or move” or “if only I could move” or “if I could get a better job or better spouse, things would be better”. The question is simple: If every external thing in life changed the way we desire, would we be happy? Some people think so. They constantly pursue change by trying to manipulate their external circumstances. Could it be that God has something deeper in mind? Could it be that He really wants us to know Him, experience Him, and allow change into our lives by first changing us from the inside out? God is constantly working to make us more and more like His Son. It is through these difficulties that God can show us what needs to change, not in others, but in ourselves.
But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.C. S. Lewis
God’s people were never meant to live for lesser things. The human heart operates like a vacuum; it sucks everything up but never finds satisfaction apart from God. Our hearts can only be at rest when we find our satisfaction in Christ. Our spouses, kids, homes, jobs, and bank accounts were never meant to fill us up. Difficulties provide the opportunity reveal where we are looking for satisfaction, wholeness, and purpose.
If our peace, joy, and contentment are based on our circumstances, we’ll never find happiness. However, there is a place where change can begin today. It begins in the quiet place of submission. Where defenses are surrendered to a Holy God. Where brokenness and shame are visible to divine eyes. Where strong hands of healing reach out and quiet our troubled hearts. God is a refreshing wellspring of hope and peace in this messed up and broken world. Change begins where we are. No more blame or regret. Our circumstances are the way they are, but they are not beyond the touch of our sovereign and good God.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.Psalm 147:3 ESV
Instead of looking for someone or something to blame, what could happen if we asked God what it is that He wants to do in our circumstances, in us? What would happen if we took responsibility for our actions and reactions by holding them up against the Word? In so doing, we could allow God’s Spirit to help us be “…doers of the word, and not hearers only…” (James 1:22).
For he wounds, but he binds up; he shatters, but his hands heal.Job 5:18 ESV
The good news is that change is always possible, if we’re willing to change. We’re not responsible for changing anyone. However, we are accountable for how we allow God to change us. So much of our struggle comes because we are unwilling to see the areas of our lives or mindset that need to change. Through difficulties, God often reveals a bad attitude, a wrong motivation or even a lie that I’m believing. This process can feel like surgery when God is at work. Yet, his hand brings healing and life into our hearts and lives. Instead of fighting God, lay it all down. Ask Him to reveal what it is that He wants to change in you and be willing to do it.