You, too, may have heard it all your life: God is in complete control of everything.
But, oh how that rubs when the crud of life comes your way.
What do you tell a young woman who is pregnant with her first child when her husband of less than a year abandons her?
What do you tell the wife of a pastor who is shot dead on his church campus on a Saturday morning while serving the needs of his congregation?
What do you say to the woman who has served God all her life but now struggles with a cancer that is eating away at her bones?
All three of those women talked with me recently about the amazing things that happen when God sees their tears. All three of them have a closeness with God that I long for. And I can see already, that all three of them are leaving a legacy…not just in their life but in the lives of others.
As I wrote my book, When God Sees Your Tears, I had to grapple with those questions we ask and those situations we still struggle to comprehend. And while I don’t have answers this side of heaven for some of your hurts, I do know this: God knows every detail of your life. He hears every one of your prayers. And He sees every tear that is shed.
God not only sees your tears, but His Word says He collects them in a bottle (Psalm 56:8, NASB). He is mindful of all that is on our hearts and all He wants to do in our lives to bring about His desired purposes.
But what if God’s “desired purposes” don’t sound real attractive to you right now?
It’s one thing to blame yourself, your circumstances, or other people for the cruddy things that happen in life. But when we recognize God is in control over everything, it’s hard not to blame Him for what appears to be going wrong. I know of many people who have responded with anger – toward God or their circumstances – when life took a different turn than they planned. At least those people have the basics right….at the end of the day, when all is said and done, God really is in control of all things.
So if God is going to do whatever He wants with our lives, regardless of our permission or understanding in the process, how do we come to the point where we are okay with that? The Bible says “joy” awaits those who “remain” in His presence or surrender to His will (Psalm 16:11, John 15:10-11).
So, here’s how you and I can “remain in Him” when we’re stuck in a situation we don’t like:
Trust God With Your Entire Story
We often see only a chapter in our lives, but God sees our complete story from beginning to end. God also sees what we and others will glean from our story, as well as how He can be glorified. Sometimes we don’t get to see the way He works it all for good this side of heaven. But as you trust Him with what He has planned – even the things that only He can see right now – you will experience His peace. And eventually, His joy.
Tell Him All That’s On Your Heart
Hannah, whose story is recorded in the Bible’s book of First Samuel, is an example of a woman who was frustrated, hurt and angry with her circumstances. She couldn’t conceive a child. And to add insult to injury, she was mocked and ridiculed for it by her husband’s other wife. Yet she poured out her heart to God in prayer and told Him if He’d give her a son, she’d give him back to God for the rest of his days. She didn’t just pray and see God grant her petition. She poured her heart out, in anguish (First Samuel 1:1-20). As you do that, the peace of God that passes understanding will guard your heart and mind (Philippians 4:6-7).
Turn Your Desire Over to Him
When Hannah offered back to God what she wanted most in life, she finally received her long-awaited son. And then she physically gave him back to God again. Therein lies the key: Are you wanting something so badly you’re willing to offer it back to God if He gives it to you? When God sees our surrender, He often gives us what we ask because He knows we will consider it His and surrender it back to Him. It’s possible God wants you to be so desperate for something that you’re willing to surrender it to Him, as well. Why would God give us everything we want if it led us further from Him? (That may be why God doesn’t answer most people’s prayers to win the lottery!) Ask God to give you a desire for Him that is even stronger than whatever else you desire right now so that when He finally gives it, you will freely offer it back to Him.
Trust the Process
When Hannah finally received her child, she raised him for a few short years and then followed through on her promise to give him back to God. Into a corrupt worship system she surrendered him, but trusted that God was big enough to shield her child from negative influences and bring about His will for her son’s life. God did more than that. He took Hannah’s little boy, Samuel, and turned him into one of Israel’s greatest prophets and priests at a time when the nation was most in need of godly leadership. Samuel anointed Israel’s first two kings and left a spiritual legacy …for both his mother and himself. But Hannah’s little boy never could’ve done that if she hadn’t been desperate enough to offer him back to God and trusting enough to do it at a time when it looked like a ridiculous thing to do (First Samuel 1:21-2:26).
You may not understand what God is doing in the midst of your circumstances, but trust the process. If you are surrendered to Him, acknowledging that He really can work all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), then nothing but a grand adventure awaits. Pour out your heart before this God who knows you and hears you and sees your tears. Trust the process that He is working through, even though you can’t see it right now. And most of all, trust what happens when God sees your tears.