“Jesus said, ‘You're asking the wrong question. You're looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do.”
- John 9:3 MSG
The Lord showed me this verse from the Message Bible when I was seeking Him about some serious problems that my family and I were having. I was asking God questions like: “What went wrong? Where did I fail? What could I have done differently?” And I was driving myself crazy. The only answer I ever really got from the Lord was the above verse. He obviously didn't want me trying to assign blame to someone or something. He wanted me to put aside my questions and regrets, and to focus instead on what He was willing and able to do in the matter. And I got the distinct impression that He wasn't going to do ANYTHING until I took my eyes off of my problems and put them on Him.
Whenever we're experiencing trials, it's a good idea to ask the Lord how we might have caused or contributed to them in any way. If we do this with a sincere and open heart, we can depend on Him to reveal our wrongdoing. Then we can confess it, receive His forgiveness, and ask for His help not to repeat the offense. But sometimes, He doesn't show us anything in particular that we have done wrong. When that's the case, we can either start dredging up all kinds of imagined offenses and focus on all the things that are wrong with us--or we can enter God's rest, keeping our eyes on Him and trusting in His willingness and ability to bring good out of the situation. Unfortunately, the last thing Satan wants is for us to rest in the Lord. More than likely, he'll bring people along our path who will begin to suggest that we MUST have done something wrong or we wouldn't be having these problems. Then we can start feeling guilty and condemned, which is exactly what the devil wanted in the first place. When there's no doubt that our own foolishness is somehow responsible for our problems, we can expect Satan to say something to us like: “You don't REALLY expect God to help you out of this mess. After all, you brought it on by your OWN stupidity!” Even if that's true, it would be even more foolish not to seek or accept help from the only One who can really rescue us.
While it's true that our God is a righteous Judge, it's also true that He is exceedingly merciful, especially toward those who love and reverence Him. Psalm 103:10-11 NIV says: “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him.” And verses 14 & 15 assure us: “As a father pities His children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” (NKJV)
The Lord DID reveal His glory in my family’s situation, and I believe that shifting my focus from the problem to the Problem Solver made all the difference. If you are in a hard place today, know that God doesn't want you spending all your time and energy trying to figure out why. That won't please or glorify Him. Instead, put your questions and regrets aside and start looking for what God can do!
Prayer: Lord, when I'm experiencing trials, help me to seek You about anything I might have done to contribute to them. When I'm tempted to go on a “digging expedition”--trying to come up with all kinds of things I might have done to cause my troubles--remind me that this is not Your will for me. Help me instead to enter Your rest by focusing on You and Your promises. Thank You that as I keep my eyes on You, I will be blessed and You will be glorified!
- J. M. Farro