“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3: 5–6
I’ve been thinking about the path the Lord has established for my life and the decisions I have made along the way. The longer I stay on this path, the more I realize that the Lord will lead me into both good situations and not-so-good situations. Sometimes, the latter makes me question the Lord’s voice and His benevolence.
Often, I become frustrated with the Lord because I earnestly follow Him but the path is treacherous. I write statements like this one in my journal: “I try so hard to listen to your voice and do everything you ask of me, yet I encounter and I am stuck in these awful situations that are no fault of my own. I’m just following your voice—doing what you ask me to do—and I am miserable because of it.”
Later, the Lord showed me that if I had known what I would encounter before I encountered it, I probably would not have gone. I would never experience hardships that forced me to rely on the Lord and no one else, I would never meet people who became my close friends, and I would never learn the lessons and gain the tools that would equip me for future experiences.
The Lord knows that I will obey when He says “go” or “wait” or “stop” or “slow down” or “move faster.” In the past, I went even though I was completely clueless about what would happen along the way. In my naivety, I believed that nothing bad would happen to me or that I would not be disappointed by opportunities or people the Lord wanted me to encounter.
Many years have passed since the Lord and I first began this journey, and I am learning that some situations the Lord leads me into will be filled with disappointment, failure, or constant struggle. But experiencing challenges does not mean that He did not lead me or that I went the wrong direction. Nor does it always mean that I have sinned and am being punished. When the path is difficult, I am learning to remember Proverbs 3:5–6. I will not lean on my superficial understanding of the path. Rather, I will trust that there is purpose in the Lord’s direction and begin to ask Him about the lessons He wants me to learn so that I make the most of every experience.
Psalm 37:23 says, “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him.” Sometimes, those steps may lead to battle, but I will be victorious because He led me there and is with me. Other times, those steps may lead to a great joy or an abundant harvest. He is with me in those times, too.
It is not easy, but I am learning to be satisfied with wherever the Lord directs my steps because the path He has established for my life is not necessarily about my happiness or comfort. Rather, it is about obedience, trust, a refinement of my character, and partnering with the Lord to accomplish His plan for the earth.