We Christians struggle so hard to find the will of God for our lives. And then once we believe we’ve found His will, we labor hard to see it fulfilled.
I am convinced this struggle to find God’s will — to live in it, walk in it and see its fulfillment — can become our greatest battle. And the battle intensifies whenever we find ourselves in dire circumstances.
Many Christians simply cannot accept where they are right now. Their lives are burdened down by serious problems. For some, the burden is a lingering sickness. For others it is an unsaved loved one. And now for increasing numbers, the battle is a financial crisis. Very few Christians accept that such burdens could possibly be a part of God’s perfect will for their lives.
As a preacher of the gospel, I know that all sustaining faith and hope must have a foundational truth upon which to grow. What is this foundational truth? Simply this: I must know and believe I am in God’s perfect will — right now, right where I am, in this present time and place.
Simply put, no matter the condition I find myself in — whether I’m rich or poor, sick or healthy, in prison or free — I am to believe I’m in the center of God’s perfect will for my life. I embrace that my steps have been ordered of the Lord.
I personally identify with Paul: “In whatever state I find myself, I am content” (see Philippians 4:11).
I thank God for the example of Paul. This faithful apostle knew how to abound in blessings and yet also rejoice in times of adversity. No matter his outward condition, no matter how pressing his circumstances, Paul always knew he was in the center of God’s perfect will.
There are times in life when things look very bleak but we can say to God, “I’m putting all my faith in You because while my situation looks hopeless, with You nothing is impossible” (see Luke 18:27).
In Mark 5 we read that Jesus was on His way to the home of a man named Jairus and a large crowd was following Him.
“A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe” (Mark 5:25-27, NLT).
The King James Version said she touched the hem of His garment. And even though her condition was getting worse, she thought to herself, “If I can just touch His robe, I will be healed” (verse 28).
Her faith was saying, “I can do this” and then, “Jesus will do the other part.” She was looking at the impossible and affirming that Jesus could do it.
I love this woman’s faith. She had no reason to have faith because nothing she had done had worked. But she finally got hold of this one last hope, this one last desire. She said to herself, “I will touch just the hem of His garment. I will grab hold of Jesus!”
She maneuvered her way through the crowd and touched the hem of His garment — and “immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition” (Mark 5:29).
Once, when Jesus traveled from Judea to Galilee, the apostle John records that “he had to go through Samaria” (John 4:4). The fact is, Jesus didn’t have to go through Samaria to get to Galilee, geographically speaking. In fact, because Jews hated Samaritans, Jews regularly took the long way around in order to avoid that region. But Jesus felt compelled to go through Samaria because that’s where the Spirit now led Him—He had to go through Samaria not as a matter of geography, but as a matter of mission, out of obedience to the Spirit’s guidance.
When Jesus reached Samaria He sent His disciples on ahead of Him and He sat down beside Jacob’s well. There He waited for His divine encounter with the Samaritan woman, where He supernaturally discerned everything about her. Their conversation changed her life forever, and she became the world’s first evangelist, witnessing about Jesus to the people of her city. Jesus stayed with these Samaritans for two more days and was able to bring many others to salvation before moving on. This encounter would never have happened if Jesus hadn’t been following the Spirit’s leading.
Later, in Galilee, as the time for the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem drew near, the brothers of Jesus urged Him to travel there “so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world” (John 7:3-4).
But Jesus was on a different schedule. He answered them, “You go to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.” (John 7:8).
Once again Jesus was waiting for clearance from the Holy Spirit to move. He was waiting for the right time to make an entrance at the feast and to reveal His wisdom and teaching to the people in Jerusalem. He knew, in fact, that He was the true feast — the Messiah they’d been waiting for. He Himself was the reason for their celebration, though they did not realize it.
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.
In recent weeks I’ve sought the Lord for a word that would give me peace amid all the unnerving bad news.
I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “David, behold the glory of Christ. That is what will keep you anchored in peace.”
“Thank you, Lord,” I prayed. “But what really is the glory of Christ?”
To me, His glory comes down to something I need and understand: loving kindness. This is more than just Christ’s kindness. It is His loving kindness — then it is his tender loving kindness.
This may be but one facet of His glory. But it is how we need to see Christ — the exact likeness of the heavenly Father, who is caring, tender, loving and kind to His children.
Paul beheld Christ’s glory every morning. This much-afflicted servant of God woke up on many days deeply troubled. There were countless times when he was cast down and perplexed. But Paul stirred his soul to look up so he might behold the glory of Christ — meaning, the mercy and loving kindness of the person of Christ. As Paul did this, the Holy Spirit renewed him with strength to face each day.
Jeremiah wrote this prophecy: “Let him that glorieth glory in this, that He understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight” (Jeremiah 9:24).
Note the very first item in this list of things God delights in: loving kindness. His message to us is clear: We are called to glory in his loving kindness.
David testified in the Psalms, “All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the Lord will command His loving kindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life” (Psalm 42:7–8, my italics).
Paul writes, “We are troubled on every side . . . perplexed . . . persecuted . . . cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8–9).
“Trouble on every side” — Can you identify with this phrase? Perhaps you’re facing physical pain, marital distress, financial problems, concerns for your children. Life can be totally overwhelming at times.
The fact is, it is possible to be in God’s perfect will and still be cast down at times. We can walk in the very center of His will and still be perplexed, troubled and persecuted.
Some Christians have been troubled on every side for so long they think, “This cannot be of God. It’s all too much to endure. My suffering has gone on for too long and I feel utterly abandoned. The Lord must be chastening me for past sins. There’s no other explanation.”
Paul lays before us wonderful truth he clung to that kept him from despairing:
“Though our outward man perish, our inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
Hear the truth Paul is declaring to us:
“Yes, all these many troubles and trials have worn down my outward body. My flesh is indeed slowing down. But, at the same time, something wonderful is happening in my soul. All these things are working together for good in me, and I am growing in my knowledge of the Lord and His ways.”
Paul knew he was living in God’s perfect will. He realized all his trials weren’t happening because he was under wrath. On the contrary, Paul knew more deeply than ever that he was greatly loved by the Lord.
In short, Paul had embraced his condition and was learning patience: “You have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36).