God wants you to have problems in life. Not because He wants you to be miserable, but because problems provide a context for you to mature and develop a closer bond with Him. It’s when our lives aren’t going smoothly that we start really looking for God’s involvement in them. Problems also provide an opportunity for God to teach us more about who He is.
Suppose you have your friend over for dinner. Everything goes perfectly, and it’s a nice evening, but you spend the whole time trying to impress your friend with your hosting skills. By the end of it, you’re tired and you’re not feeling like the friendship has progressed forward. If anything, you feel rather distant from your friend because you were never relaxed enough to let your guard down and talk real. Too often this is how we act around God: we’re always trying to impress Him. We strive to be good little Christians who are super polite when we pray and passionate in our worship. We go to church and read our Bibles whether we feel like it or not because we think it’s what God wants us to do. We care about God, but we’re not really relating to Him, we’re just performing. While He understands that our hearts might be in the right place, God has no use for such shallowness. He wants something real.
Now let’s suppose you have a friend over for dinner, but this time everything goes wrong. The main course burns. You accidentally knock over a drink and it spills all over your friend’s shirt. You grab a hot dish without potholders and scald your hand just before dropping the dish and having it smash all over your kitchen floor. Now you’re in tears and totally embarrassed and frustrated. These problems result in a very different kind of evening, don’t they? When you dump staining liquid all over your friend, she is very gracious about it. When you burn your hand, she helps you treat it. When food is all over the floor, she helps you clean it up. Then she orders a pizza to be delivered and the two of you end up sitting on the couch talking about how stressed out you’ve been lately. Your friend gives you much needed comfort and some very helpful advice. Even though the evening was filled with embarrassing disasters, by the end of it, you feel much closer to your friend than you would have if everything went smoothly. It was the problems that prevented you from being able to keep up some phony pretense that you have it all together in life. The problems also gave your friend an opportunity to be your friend—to show how much she cares about you. To God, this second evening was a far greater success than the first one.
Here’s a common pattern in the lives of sincere Christians. They want to do something, and they pray about it. Maybe they have their heart set on buying something, like a car or a house. Maybe it’s a new job. Maybe it’s getting married. Whatever it is, God gives them the green light. Everything falls into place and they go forward with their plans. But no sooner is the first step accomplished than problems start to arise. The new car ends up in the shop with unexpected problems and it turns out that the thing is a lemon. The new house ends up having termites and mold. The new job that sounded so great comes with a really jerky supervisor. The new spouse ends up having some shocking secrets that put enormous strain on the relationship. When God starts intentionally messing things up like this, it’s easy to jump to the worrisome conclusion that He’s mad at us. After all, we went into debt to buy the house or the car because we really, really wanted it—is God now punishing us for being too materialistic? Or maybe we relocated our family to try the new job because we really thought it would be a fit—is God now punishing us for being too selfish? We really tried to seek God’s wisdom in the midst of our infatuation–is He now going to say we didn’t wait long enough to marry? Does God really lure us towards some apparent blessing just to whack us across the face with it? It depends. God certainly does use blessings as a form of discipline in this world, but is that what He’s doing with you right now? Well, let’s remember that the purpose of discipline is correction. Do you need correction? God says it’s spiritual rebels who need correction, and those are souls whose bottom line attitude is, “I don’t care what You want, God, I’m doing things my way.” Is that you? Are you really being this snarky towards God in your heart? If you know that you’re not, don’t let demons or misguided Christians try to convince you that you are.
No one knows what’s going on in your heart except God and you. Demons know, too, but since they’re chronic liars, they’re hardly a resource. As a Christian, you have to learn how to be confident in your own walk with God, and that comes down to not letting other people define reality for you. Do you love God? Do you want Him to be pleased with you? Do you want Him to have His way in your life? If you’re saying yes to these questions, then obviously you’re not in a state of spiritual rebellion. If you’re not rebelling, you’re not in need of correction. God says He is pleased with souls who are aligned with Him, and alignment is when we identify with the statement, “God, I understand that Your opinion is the only One that really counts. I really want to be pleasing in Your sight. I want You to be having Your way in my life.”
God isn’t neutral about souls who are in alignment with Him, He is thrilled with them. So when you know that you’re in alignment with God, you can know that He is delighted with you. Is God going to angrily whack the kids He is delighted with? Certainly not. So then how do you explain these problems in your life? They’re not about correction, they’re about education. God isn’t annoyed with you, He’s setting up opportunities for you and Him to bond.
God designed us to continuously evolve. Evolutionists have turned the word “evolve” into some idiotic theory that the human race is really striving and straining to one day morph into some form of alien life. But no, being human is not just one step on some evolutionary ladder in which we continuously change what kind of creatures we are. You didn’t come from slime and apes, nor are you destined to morph into some space traveling alien. You have always been human, and you will always be human. You won’t morph into an angel when you die, you’ll still be a human. But humans are designed to be ever changing creatures. Even your physical earthsuit is changing. When you were born, you could be cradled in the arms of an adult. Now look at you: you’re a giant compared to who you once were. And just as your physical shell was designed to be in a continuous state of flux, your soul is also supposed to be ever changing and growing and blossoming.
Education is a vital part of your evolution, and that education is something God supplies by inspiring you to wonder about many different things. Just as a father might take his small boy on a walk through the woods to introduce him to new concepts and experiences, God has you on this earth to introduce you to many aspects of reality. But no matter what subject God is currently focusing on with you, His end goal is to draw you closer to Himself. You were created for God, and He will cause every dilemma in your life to point you back to Him one way or another. When the new car has to go in the shop, you’re confused about what to do. Good, because confusion makes you want answers, and wanting answers makes you turn to God. But maybe He doesn’t give you answers right off—what then? Well, there is no end to the possible lessons God could want to squeeze out of this one experience. Maybe He wants to teach you about budgeting. Maybe He wants to teach you about debt management. Maybe He wants to use the car problems to help you see cars in a more balanced light.
There’s nothing wrong with being into cars or having some hobby that you really enjoy. There’s nothing wrong with being passionate about your job or working hard to develop some particular skill. God chose your interests for you before you were even born. If you love sports, He isn’t going to come down on you for having worldly priorities. You can’t help the fact that something really excites you. But we could all benefit from some tempering in life.
Do you expect a young child to have a balanced view of life? No, you expect a young child to become emotionally dependent on his favorite toys and get super excited about things like his birthday and Christmas. You expect him to be super disappointed when his ice cream cone plops onto the ground. You expect him to be very frightened by a loud boom of thunder. Is the boy flawed for having such extreme, unbalanced views in life? Not at all. It takes time and a variety of experiences to help us reach healthy balances in life. Our first friend is a huge deal. Our first love often turns into an obsession. The first time we’re dumped, it’s devastating. This is quite normal and natural when we have very limited experience in life. It’s a big deal to a kid when he comes home and finds Goldie the fish floating upside down in the water. An adult can take such an event in stride, but a kid who’s never dealt with death might need comforting words and some tissues to process the loss. This isn’t something to be mocked. Good parents care about their children’s extra sensitivities and they try to introduce them to the harsher side of the world in stages. It’s the same with God.
Maybe right now you’re obsessed with cars. Is this a problem? No, God has wired a love of cars into you and He doesn’t think it’s some kind of flaw. But He doesn’t want you to go through your whole life thinking cars are the be all end all, because that would be like the child who never learns to cope with the death of his fish or the loss of his toy. We all need to acquire balanced views in life. We all need God’s help to learn how to not define ourselves by our careers or by the stuff we own. We all need to learn that the things of this world aren’t as important as they seem. God eases us into these lessons one step at a time. When our prized car ends up with expensive problems, God isn’t trying to punish us for buying it, He’s helping us see that even something as fabulous as owning the ideal car isn’t as great as we thought it would be. When our dream job goes south, He isn’t trying to say we were wrong to go through the doors He opened for us. Instead, He’s helping us gain a more balanced perspective by showing us that just having the ideal career isn’t enough to make us satisfied. When our kids are miserable in the new school we put them into, and our boss is a pill, and our coworkers are hostile, we start seeing our dream job in a whole new light. This isn’t a bummer, it’s maturity. Should a boy go through life thinking he can’t live without his teddy bear? No, but it’s natural to start off there, and teddy bears come in many forms. It’s instinctive for humans to assume that the things and people of this world can provide for all of their needs. God doesn’t expect us to assume otherwise when we’re first starting out, but He’s certainly not going to just leave these assumptions unchallenged. Instead, He’s going to carefully put us through many experiences which will force us to rethink our value systems and our sources of security in life.
It’s when we don’t understand how reasonable God’s expectations are that we get all tangled up in anxiety that He’s upset with us. God doesn’t expect us to come out of the womb as mature spiritual adults. He expects us to start off with all kinds of wrong ideas about ourselves, the world we live in, and Him. He then thoroughly enjoys the process of slowly adjusting our beliefs. Being educated by God is not a punishment. To Him, it’s a critical part of the bonding process. Suppose you had a child who you really loved, but you were never allowed to teach her anything. Would you like that set up? Not hardly. One of the joys of parenting is getting to introduce our kids to new things and new ideas. We take pride in helping our kids through the rough transitions in life. When the loving father sees his son feeling dejected because he wasn’t picked for the team, the father seizes the chance to boost his son up by teaching him that other kids don’t get to define his worth. It’s often upsetting and painful to learn new perspectives in life. It always hurts to be rejected, but with the right coaching, we learn to become happier, more confident people because of these experiences.
As our loving Father and Creator, God is very interested in helping us experience an ever better existence. God intentionally puts us through rough patches in this world in order to help us change in ways that will end up helping us feel more content, peaceful, and joyful in life. He gently erodes our investment in the things of this world and teaches us how to be more focused on Him. It’s not that He doesn’t enjoy blessing us, because He certainly does, but He isn’t content with us stagnating. He enjoys every stage of our growth, but each stage is supposed to be temporary, and God is constantly creating situations in our lives that will keep nudging us forward on the path of maturity.
So then, you thought God gave you the green light to do something, and now things are going south. When you know that you are living in alignment with Him, there’s no need to worry about His view of you. God loves you and He is very eager to help you continuously evolve in life. These problems aren’t about discipline, they’re about education. There are new insights to be learned, and new perspectives to be acquired. Try to focus on the fact that God is for you and most eager to lead you on to better and better places. Ask Him to help you learn whatever lessons He wants to teach you, and then wait to see what unfolds.
When we know that we sincerely care about pleasing God, we need to see our lives as exciting adventures which He’s leading us through, not as a series of negative lectures. God is not some brooding, hard to please Father. While His will in any given moment can certainly be unpredictable, His motivations are quite clear. We know that our Creator loves us and that He is for us. We know that we can count on Him to lead us down paths that He knows will be best for our souls in the long run. We can know that He will see us through any problem which He creates in our lives, and we can rest in the knowledge that He will never leave us. It is because we have such a wonderful God who is in absolute control of all things that we have no reason for fear. God makes succeeding with Him so very easy. He never sets the bar impossibly high over our heads. And while we’re bumbling through our many stages of growth, He is taking great delight in guiding us, helping us, and holding us close to Him.