Life is unpredictable. It’s full of ups and downs, hairpin turns, and unexplained detours.

We often make the mistake of believing that following God will prevent us from difficulties in this life. We think because we have faith in Jesus and we’re obeying His Word that life should be easy. But the reality is that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Following Jesus is not about our comfort. Following Jesus requires trusting Him in the midst of our mess. David Platt said, “Radical obedience to Christ is not easy… It’s not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in this world. Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all these things. But in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. And he is more than enough for us.”

1 Peter 4:19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.

Following Jesus is hard. Sometimes God’s purposes seem to be more harmful than helpful because He allows us to go through trials, temptations, and struggles. But God’s purpose is never the same as our purpose. Oswald Chambers put it this way, “God called Jesus Christ to what seemed like an absolute disaster. And Jesus Christ called His disciples to see Him put to death, leading every one of them to the place where their hearts were broken. His life was an absolute failure from every standpoint except God’s. But what seemed to be failure from man’s standpoint was a triumph from God’s standpoint, because God’s purpose is never the same as man’s purpose.”

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

God has a plan for every challenge you face. Jeremiah teaches that His purposes for you are good and He wants to “give you a future and a hope”. So, why does God lead us down a winding road? Why does He allow us to go through difficult times? Why doesn’t God take away all our struggles when we choose to follow Him?

While the reasons are often beyond our comprehension and understanding, here are a few of the reasons that I’ve discovered along the way:

  1. God wants us to know Him and His character – God’s ultimate goal in everything we face is to lead us to know Him more.
  2. God wants to build our character – God’s desire is to shape us to be more like Jesus. He uses our pain and struggles to develop in us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.
  3. God allows problems to test our hearts and our motives – God is more interested in our hearts being fully devoted and dependent upon Him than giving us a carefree life.
  4. God wants to use our circumstances to minister to others – God uses our struggles to show other people that He is faithful. He allows us to comfort others because of what we’ve been through. When we live “worthy of our calling” people notice and are pointed to Jesus!

Isaiah 55:8–9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

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