by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery
You know those people who are always asking for advice but never seem to follow it? Um… that could be me. I often preface a conversation with, “So, I may not agree with you…” (translation: I probably won’t) “…but what do you think I should…”
I guess what I really mean is, “Please tell me what I want to hear, confirming that my ideas on this are correct.”
What a fool I must seem to be by even asking the question!
Of course, my friends are only human and could be offering faulty reasoning. I’d certainly never treat the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of the universe that way… right?
If my past responses to difficult situations are any indication …
“Lord, this hurts! I can’t lose my job/deal with sickness/walk through this relational issue now! It’s not fair! It’s not right! I. Don’t. Like. This! Please help me!”
To which God often replies: Draw near to Me. Surrender to Me. Don’t run from the pain or the trial; instead, press into Me and let Me grow you through it.
But in the middle of the hard, I don’t want to hear it. All I want is an end to my pain. So I repeat my pleas over and over, adding a few more please helps for good measure. My attention is on my problem rather than focused on listening for God’s voice.
James warns that someone asking God for help without trusting His answer “is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind…[and] such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do” (James 1:6, 8 NIV). I hate to admit it, but there have been many times when I have resembled a storm-tossed boat, surging first this way then another, at the mercy of whatever feels right or most comforting in the moment; anything but someone who is anchored in truth.
But here’s the deal: when we come to God in the middle of our trial, we’re doing more than crying out for help. We’re saying we’ll follow His guidance—whatever that looks like. That could mean Him plucking us out of a situation, but more often than not, his plan is to teach us how to stand in the middle of it. Rather than rescue, He pulls us close and whispers to our hearts, “Stay. Remain. And lean on me.” He’s giving us a choice, and wants our response to be, “Okay. I trust You, God. Because you said it, I will heed your words.”
Though our friends’ wisdom, on occasion, might fail, God’s wisdom never will. When I understand that and perceive all the love tied up in what he is offering, I’d be a fool to do anything but obey.
Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. Proverbs 15:35 NIV
About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of six contemporary novels, co-author of a Bible study that helps women plant their feet deep in grace, and has a seventh novel releasing in April. She maintains two devotional blogs, one at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud, and the other on Crosswalk. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.
Join the conversation: Let’s talk about this! How easy is it for you to follow God’s guidance in the middle of trials? How might remembering who God is—all loving and all knowing—help?