When God Allows Unhappy Moments To Take Place

Written by Gracella Sofiani Mingkid, Indonesia, originally in Bahasa Indonesia

“I can’t tell you about my unhappy moments because I’ve never experienced any before,” my friend said. We were having a small group discussion and were taking turns to share about at least three moments in our lives that made us unhappy.

I almost couldn’t believe her reply. “Wow, what an amazing life she must have,” I thought. And yet, a part of me couldn’t help but wonder, “Really, God? Is it possible that someone is never unhappy?”

I have had my fair share of unhappy moments. In eleventh grade, I was ranked third in class for the very first time. I know this may sound odd, but I was sad because I had always attained first place. I was a perfectionist especially when it came to grades—I had to be the best.

I blamed myself for failing to stay in first place and repeatedly chided myself for not studying hard enough. The day I received my results, I locked myself in my room and cried.

When I told my friends about how disappointed I was in myself, they told me off for overreacting over a “small difference”. What my friends didn’t realize was how much this “small difference” meant to me.

When the new academic year started, I pushed myself even harder to do well. It was not easy at all. I had lost my confidence and believed that my friends didn’t look up to me anymore. Some of them had moved to another study group.

During my time in college, God allowed me to go through the same struggle again. While there were times I did get a perfect score, there were also times when I didn’t get a satisfying score, no matter how hard I tried. The perfectionist in me still wasn’t used to failure, and I went through the same set of emotions again and again.

I’ve always been ready to share my testimony of God’s goodness. However, whenever I didn’t perform as well as I expected, I couldn’t bring myself to testify about His grace and goodness. In fact, when I think about it, most of the testimonies I’ve heard have been about thanking God for something good, such as good health or good scores in school. I’m sure I’m not alone.

Of course, we are to glorify God for everything He has done for us. But what if someone who just got fired from his job, is suffering from last-stage cancer or who has failed his final examination were to ask you, Does that mean God does not love me?, how would you answer them?

I’ve heard one pastor suggest that we can give better testimonies by adding “one way” in front of our sentences. For example, one way God shows me His kindness is by giving me excellent scores. One way He shows me His love is by giving me good health or a good job. By recognizing that God uses different ways and means to bless us, we are reminding ourselves that God can and will display His love and kindness to us in many ways.

God may not always give us what—according to our perspective—is good and extraordinary. When Job was suffering, his wife asked him to curse God. Job’s response was, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10). We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).

As Christians, we are to expect that our lives are not going to be smooth-sailing. God may use disappointment, heartache, defeat, and loss to show us that He will love us no matter what. In fact, that is what He did with me. God shaped me by putting me right at the bottom. He allowed me to experience disappointment and defeat.

The pain helped me understand His purpose. He showed me the correct attitude I should have in the face of disappointment. I became less result-oriented and more process-oriented. Appreciation of the process itself—when it comes to study or work—makes it easier for me to accept my failures and unfulfilled expectations or wishes.

A story of a high schooler who felt depressed because of her perfectionism may sound silly. But that’s exactly how she learned patience, self-control, and the correct attitude. Through this experience, she realized how much God loves her, and that God has the full authority to shape and purify her life. She learned to rely on God’s mighty hand and wisdom.

ODJ: taste and see

August 22, 2015 

READ: Psalm 34:1-8 

Taste and see that the LORD is good (v.8). 

A friend posted a crockpot recipe on her Facebook page. The meal looked good, so I downloaded the recipe—intending to use it one day. The following week, another friend said she was looking for some good slow-cooker meals to prepare, so I emailed her the crockpot recipe I had seen on Facebook. She, in turn, forwarded it to several friends who passed it on as well.

Later, while talking with friends, I learned that the recipe had been forwarded far and wide though no one—not even the friend who posted it originally—had actually made the dish. We recommended it without having tasted it.

On occasion we do something similar in matters of faith. While our motives to build “others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV) are good ones, and biblical, it’s often easier to post others’ stories about trusting God than to exercise faith in Him ourselves.

For example, we might post an anecdote on Facebook encouraging others to “taste and see that the LORD is good”, “take refuge in him” and “fear him” so they will “have all they need” (Psalm 34:8-9). At the same time, however, we’re not doing those things.

With this observation I’m not seeking to point out areas of hypocrisy. I’m simply noting that God doesn’t want me just to talk about Him; He wants me to experience Him. He wants us to know Him deeply and to taste and see that He is good!

We can experience deeper intimacy with Christ by:

• praising Him and exalting in who He is (vv.1,3).

• praying to Him and listening for His voice (vv.4,6).

• enjoying His goodness as we take refuge in Him (v.8).

—Roxanne Robbins

365-day-plan: Luke 18:1-14

Read Titus 1:16 and consider the difference between saying we know God and living in a way that honours Him because we do know Him. 
What does it mean for you to taste and know that God is good? How will you grow in greater intimacy with Him this week? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

I Am (Not) Stupid

Written By Helen Maria Veronica, originally in Bahasa Indonesia

I never think that I can do anything well enough. My report book has always been full of red marks since my first elementary class. I joined a private tuition, but it did not improve my grades. Even my own teacher called me stupid. It really hurt my feelings. I became discouraged easily and felt that I can do nothing right. My parents decided that it was better that I study at home with my mother’s help. Perhaps it is because they did not see any significant improvements in my results after sending me for private tuition classes. In fact, I always think that God created me a stupid person.

Everytime I see my friends with good grades, I envy them. Why didn’t God create me to be as smart and as bright as them? Quietly, I observe them and try to be like them. When I heard that smart people like to eat food with high protein like fish and eggs, I also ate those food. When I saw my smart friend wipe the perspiration off his forehead in a certain way (he said it helps your brain work better), I imitated him too. The good thing about following them was I not only became more diligent, I became more willing to eat nutritious food. My grades slowly improved, but it is still far from consistent. Although I studied hard, I always think that I am a stupid person and I will remain like that. I feel there is no point in trying harder, because this is just the way God has created meas a stupid person. What can I say?

One day, I heard someone share that reading the Bible everyday can make you smarter and wiser. Naturally, I was interested to give it a try. I disciplined myself to read the Bible regularly. Though it started due to my curiosity, God in His grace used those times to teach me personally. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus said: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” I was struck that God cared about the pains I had been through. Even though many people called me stupid, God invited me to come to Him. I don’t have to bear all these burdens alone.

God also corrected my understanding on who a “stupid” person really is. Proverbs 1:7 said: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. God did not create me or other human beings as stupid creatures. He gives us the capacity to learn and to become more and more like Him. We become fools when we “despise wisdom and instruction” and are unwilling to learn and to be taught. But those of us who fear God know that we are limited, so we are willing to be led by God in learning new things. This Bible verse encourages me a lot everytime I face difficulties in my studies.

I also started to realize that all these years, I’ve been too preoccupied with complaining about  disappointments to God and to people around me, that I cannot see God’s goodness and the growth opportunities He provides. As I read my Bible regularly, God helps me to see problems from His perspective. With a renewed mind, I can study without any baggage, knowing that God has a good plan for my life, and I will see the beauty of His work in His time. I am excited to study as I trust that God has given me the capacity to do it. He never created me a stupid creature. Believe it or not, my grades improved significantly, and one time I even reached first position in my school!

Somebody told me this saying: “Accept the things you cannot change, and change the things you cannot accept.” There are times we feel that we want to give up because of things we cannot change. For example, we cannot change how other people perceive and treat us. With regard to those things that we cannot change, we can lean on God’s promise that He is working all things for our good, that we may be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29). And at times, there are good reasons not to give up because the things that discouraged us can and need to be changed. For example: our wrong thinking, our bad habits, our lack of knowledge. Let us thank God that although He accepts us the way we are, He will never leave us as we are. Instead, He continues to correct our thinking and encourages us in our journey through His Word.