God is God. If He is God, He is worthy of my worship and my service. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will, and that will is infinitely, immeasurably, unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to. ~ Elisabeth Elliot
One of the most difficult and frustrating realities of living with fibromyalgia is that you never know when a flare-up will rear its ugly head. On Monday I might be feeling like a million bucks with minimal pain and lots of energy to complete my to-do list for the day. But by the time the sun rises on Tuesday, a switch could flip. Unlike the day before, I might find myself in bed, unable to move for hours or even days. And when a flare-up hits, sleep, movies, heat packs for pain, and food are suddenly the only things on my to-do list — throwing my week off and resulting in a bunch of canceled plans.
Over the last eight years, this unpredictable illness has forced me to miss out on quality time with friends, numerous church services and events, dates with my boyfriend/husband, flights, work-related trips, and more. And full disclosure: as this uncertainty became more of a frequent reality in my life, I started to have some serious questions about “God’s will.” These questions weren’t exactly new, but my illness forced me to confront two things I believe everyone struggles with when it comes to God’s will: suffering and uncertainty. Suffering tempts us to question the goodness of God’s will. And uncertainty — whether about big life plans or the next step — forces us to choose between genuinely trusting God or continuing to pursue the myth of control.
Here’s how that played out in my own life.
The idea of God’s will was something “nice and churchy” that I heard about regularly when I was growing up. Those two words were casually mentioned in the lyrics of my favorite worship songs or during conversations with loved ones.
“Just follow God’s will for your life.”
“God’s will over mine.”
But at the peak of my illness, when it was the hardest and most painful, when all my body could do was lie at home and miss out on life, those kinds of phrases tormented me.
Why would God allow me to suffer? Why would God’s will include saddling me with a chronic illness? Why would God’s plan involve me missing out on the life a typical teenage girl should be living? Beyond those specific questions, I was really wrestling with a pretty fundamental question about God: If God loves His children, why doesn’t He make life easy and light for us?
Chances are, you have your own set of “Why would God” questions.
Why would God not fulfill my desire to have a boyfriend or be married?
Why would God let mental illness plague my life, day in and day out?
Why would God allow my parents to finalize their divorce?
Why would God put me in such a hard job and work environment?
Why would God not grant my good desire to have children of my own?
Why would God let my loved one get sick or die?
Why would God allow a pandemic to shut down the world and affect millions?
Sweet friend, I wish I could spend this entire chapter answering every single one of your “Why would God” questions. But as much as I wish that for us, it’s not possible. Nor would it be good for us!
- If our willingness to trust and follow God is based on demanding that He explain and justify all the parts of life that we don’t like, that wouldn’t be faith at all.
Before I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, it seemed easy to say I was trusting God and surrendered to His will. Life had been smooth sailing for as long as I could remember. Academics, athletics, friendships, and day-to-day life just came so effortlessly to me. It sure seemed like God had lined up all the cards in my favor. But when life began to do what it does best — throw us for a loop — the idea of “God’s will over my own will” suddenly wasn’t so easy to embrace.
If you were to do a quick Google search for “Bible verses about God’s will,” you might be surprised at the results. As you first type those words into the search bar, you may be hopeful — surely the Bible will have a lot of obvious things to say about God’s will. Well, after scanning through a few blog posts and articles, you may find yourself stumped, with a once-hopeful smile quickly turning into a furrowed brow and confused sigh.
That’s how I felt a few years ago. When — thanks to my mentor confirming the Holy Spirit’s rumblings in my heart to pursue ministry — I decided to enroll online at a Bible college, and I felt like I finally had some semblance of direction. Heading back to college made me feel like I was finally getting my life back on track. I was finally doing something “serious” with my life.
But even with this newfound sense of direction, there were plenty of question marks. For example, I chose biblical counseling as my major — but truthfully, I wasn’t quite sure where a counseling degree would take me or even why I felt the tug to pursue counseling rather than one of the other options. In my younger years, there was this air of shame associated with counseling and therapy. It felt like a taboo topic because going to counseling made it seem like you were a messed-up person in need of help. And that was just not a good look to the world around you.
(News flash: We’re all messed up people in need of help. We’re all sinners in need of a Savior.)
But after I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, my family and I couldn’t help but notice that the traumatic effects extended to every aspect of my life. That was when my parents and pastor recommended I meet with a counselor. At first I shut the idea down, insisting that I had it figured out. That I just needed time. But it wasn’t only my body that had been affected — I was feeling emotional, spiritual, and mental fatigue.
When I started my biblical counseling classes, I was reminded of all the beautiful fruit that God brought from my own personal time in biblical counseling, a type of counseling that emphasizes that genuine and lasting change, healing, and hope are found in God’s sufficient Word. Biblical counseling also prioritizes discipleship as an integral part of the Christian life. Because of what God had done in my life through counseling, I was excited to study it in school.
It sounds like the story could pretty much write itself from there — all wrapped up in a nice bow. And Tara went on to study biblical counseling without any further doubts or questions, and began a long, successful career in her new calling. The end.
But that’s not how it played out. It’s true — I did feel as if God had opened the door to online Bible school with a bright neon sign that said YES! However, I would be lying if I said I never questioned God or His will along the way.
You see, it doesn’t matter if life is going well or if life is going poorly. Every now and again, we all stop, pause, and wonder, “Am I really supposed to be here? Is this God’s will for my life? Am I making decisions that God would approve of?” That’s where that pesky Google search comes in. I can’t tell you how many times I paused during those first few semesters of biblical counseling school, combing through the internet and the Bible for any hints about God’s will.
Was I on the right track? Was I really doing what God wanted, or was I messing up my life by following my own will? The lines were beginning to blur. Uncertainty was everywhere. After each Google search and scavenger hunt through the Bible, hoping to discover specifics about God’s will for my life, I felt more defeated.
- Why was God’s will so ridiculously hard to figure out? If it’s so important to our lives, then why didn’t He make it more obvious?
Just in case no one has told you before — it’s okay to admit that you’ve had those same thoughts. Whether suffering has made you question whether you really want to follow God’s will or uncertainty has you feeling as if there’s no hope of even knowing what God’s will is, much less following His will, this is for you. It’s time to grab our shovels and dig deep into what the Bible says about God’s will. It’s time to get our hopes up when it comes to God’s will. It’s not the time to shrink back in fear.
God wants to be known. He wants His will for us to be known. He’s given us His Word to give us insight into His will. And when we understand the beauty of God’s will, we’re able to take another step toward surrender — even in the face of suffering or uncertainty.
Excerpted with permission from Surrender Your Story by Tara Sun, copyright Tara Sun Snyder.
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You’re not alone in your suffering and you’re not alone in wondering what God’s will is? He wants His will to be known! He’s not hiding from you. Come share your thoughts on God’s will. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily