Some of the most difficult times in life arise from the unknown. I think, as human beings, we can be so consumed by what is not known to us, what is known only to God. It drives us to a point of fear, of impatience and of sorrow. We struggle to contend with the seemingly infinite number of possibilities that swarm our minds. We worry about certain possibilities becoming our reality. It is this uncertainty and the fear it creates that can begin to inhibit our ability to function to the best of our ability and put us in a position where we begin to question our faith, and question God.
There have been times, particularly over the last few years, where I have been faced with unknowns that have spurned worry and doubt in my mind. Even over the last few months there have been things that have not gone the way I expected, the way I hoped they would. It brings you to a point where you question what God is doing, why things are happening the way they are.
I have talked before about God’s timing, about how His timing is perfect, even when it may not align with our own. Sometimes I think we can become impatient with Him. We struggle to understand why something that we have prayed for repeatedly for weeks or even months or years has still not come to fruition. It may be that God has what we are hoping for in store for us, but it is just not the right time by His plans yet. He may be telling us “not yet”, to wait, to be patient. He will manifest what we are hoping for, or some version of it, in due course, but it will be on His time, not on ours.
I think we can sometimes fall into the abyss of despair as hope slowly slips from our grip. We struggle to hold onto it when things are not going our way, when the unknown becomes all too consuming. And that realm of the unknown can be scary, it can be foreboding. It is not easy to contend with something that is only known truly to someone else, and to God. We may have concerns about an aspect of our life that is not in our control yet is of great importance to us. I know that I have struggled with this kind of thing personally, I have found myself getting anxious about what is not known to me, of what is hidden from my mind. It is as if a storm cloud is hanging over your head and your heart. It creates a shadow of darkness that is difficult escape. You cannot really do anything about it. All you can do is hope, pray, and give it to God.
I was discussing this topic with a friend recently. We were both experiencing this kind of despair at different unknowns in our lives. Our situations were different, but the line of thinking was similar. One thing we discussed was how, despite our wishes for God to intervene, to help us out, He seemed to be taking too long. We both took some comfort in prayer, although it can be challenging to rely solely upon faith. But sometimes faith is all we have, and it does provide us with a sense of hope, no matter how miniscule that hope may be.
Upon further discussion, another way of praying was brought to my attention: Praise. Even though I had just been teaching my Scripture class about prayers of Praise, I never really considered using such prayer in the face of challenging situations. Praise would usually be associated with connotations of happiness, of joy. One would not usually consider the negative or difficult aspects of their life when saying a prayer of Praise to God. But it is something that we can do, and in fact should do more.
When we are facing uncertainties, when we are facing unknowns, when we are staring down hardships and challenges, even when we have just had a bad day, we should turn to God and Praise Him for it. You might wonder why. Why should we praise God for the negative things in our lives, for the things that cause us to become anxious, to despair? It is a fair question. The answer is this: Because God teaches us the most valuable lessons through these times of fear, sorrow, and despair. He uses these times to highlight the good in our lives, the important parts of life that we should value the most. And often He uses these times to bring us closer to Him.
Sometimes when we are struggling with something, we can find it difficult to rely upon faith alone. We can find it difficult to trust in God. It is when we are traversing these times that we should praise God. Take the example of a bad day. Even on our worst days we have the opportunity to learn things. It may not be easy to think about the good that has come out of the bad, but it is likely there somewhere and it is up to us to find it, to focus on it, to thank God for it. It may take some time and patience to do this, but even then we are truly learning something; We are learning patience. And again, we can praise God for teaching us this incredibly valuable skill. He may help us to learn how to let go, and we can praise Him for it.
There are times when we will get frustrated at ourselves, when we will struggle to let things go, when we will find it hard to step away from things that are holding our hearts and minds hostage. In order to find some peace, we need to take some time to check ourselves, to get back to what matters, and to bring it back to God. Because God is good, and we should praise Him for all He does for us.
Spirit & Truth is a series focusing on our humanity and our connection with God. Each edition will draw into focus one aspect of human life and explore it in some depth. Spirit and truth are the keys to living a good and godly life.
God is spirit and those who worship God must worship in spirit and truth. – John 4:24