Chapter 6: Life Lessons on the Future
1. Finding a godly wife is a good thing, and, even though it is a task that may seem impossible for us, such things are what God enjoys making possible.
Some young people don’t worry about finding a spouse because they are alright with skipping the whole marriage idea. Others take marriage lightly because, if things don’t work out, they consider divorce to be a normal, insignificant life event. The reality is that the marriage relationship is the deepest relationship we will ever have on earth. Because of Christ, we can be united in mind, body, and spirit with our spouse. Thus, the ultimate oneness that marriage can provide requires unity of faith and belief in Christ and in His Word. This kind of marriage is a very good thing, and it pleases God. Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing And obtains favor from the LORD.” But it is not easy to find a person who believes the Bible is actually true, relevant, and binding. But God is bigger than our inabilities. Luke 18:27 says, “But He said, ‘The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.’” Just because somebody goes to church is not enough to know that there is true fellowship, oneness of mind, and a shared purpose. It may seem discouraging to labor to find the right person, but, God is faithful to lead us to the proper person at the proper time if He has indeed given us that desire. We just must not settle for less than God’s best. We must not compromise our doctrine, and we must not change who we are in order to make a relationship work, unless, of course, the change is positive. A godly spouse is truly a good and perfect gift from above (James 1:17), and it is to be a lifelong bond and friendship. If we do this incorrectly, it will cause us countless miseries, but if we do it right by God’s grace and by faith, it will bring us countless mercies.
2. Life can be a lot harder than we would expect, but God’s mercies are new every morning because His faithfulness is great.
Paul was no stranger to suffering. He says in 2 Corinthians 1:8, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life.” Each of us will encounter our own various trials, pains, and suffering in this life, some more than others. Some will push us as they did Paul beyond our strength such that we might even despair of life itself. By God’s design and gentle providence, He does allow circumstances into our lives that push us beyond our own strength and force us to depend upon the strength that He alone can provide (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). He will never allow Satan to tempt us beyond what we are able by His grace to resist (1 Corinthians 10:13), but, when it comes to trials, we may need to be humbled and broken so that we see our own inability, weakness, and deficiencies apart from Christ’s total completeness and sufficiency. When we see that all that we have left to hope in is the miraculous strength of Christ, we will see that it is precisely all that we need. This is character growth, and it brings with it great hope (Romans 5:3-5).
Jeremiah was also no stranger to suffering. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” Jeremiah was called to speak the very words of God to His chosen nation of Israel, but they refused to listen to him and treated him poorly. He endured many unpleasant circumstances, and he didn’t get to see much fruit from his labor. Christian service, ministry, and doing the right things for Christ’s sake often go unnoticed, without applause, and, to our eyes, in many cases unsuccessfully. Jeremiah can relate, and it wasn’t fun. But what he knew and what sustained him was the truth that God is merciful, kind, and gracious, offering up new mercies every morning, new examples of His unfailing faithfulness. Our God is compassionate, He suffers when we suffer, and He feels our pain. His presence, given that He is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4), is comfort in and of itself in any and all circumstances. Nothing can take Jesus away from us or make Him stop loving His own. There is extreme security there, for He is faithful to His own even when we struggle to find faith (2 Timothy 2:13). It may be easy like Job to lose hope after wave upon wave of suffering crashes into our lives, but God is always there, waiting to teach us something and performing a healing, sanctifying surgery on our hearts. His mercy will always be clear in the end as it was for Job, and we will always be able to say later that goodness and mercy have followed us all of the days of our lives (Psalm 23:6). The challenge is believing it and acting in light of it in the peak of our despair. Being sure of God’s love and mercy is what will get us through the dark times of life, and it is what will keep us humble when things are going well.
3. Whatever God calls us to do in this life, whether it is what we had expected or not, if we do it to His glory, we will have lived a full life.
Colossians 3:17, 23 says, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” When we are young, we have ideas of what we want to do when we grow up. For some, those things pan out, but for others, we may end up doing things we had never expected, perhaps even things that we don’t really want to do or even enjoy doing. We can either become jealous of what others have and embittered at God, or we can do as Joseph did by honoring God as a slave in Egypt and watching God honor and bless his faithfulness as He raised him up as a testimony to His name. There is always great purpose in doing anything that God has called us to do as long as we do it unto His name and for His glory, not trying to make somebody like us and not even trying to make Him like us. He already loves us and adores us as His own, and what He does in and through us here is our pleasant service to Him. We can do whatever we do with all of our hearts, with passion, diligence, and fervor, if we are doing it for God rather than for people. This means that we do our best and maintain the highest standards rather than what is just enough to get the approval of man. It means that we actually remember and believe that we can honor and worship God by changing diapers or serving hamburgers just as much as we can leading a worldwide mission if we are where God has ordained us to be. In whatever we do and in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, if we do it for the Lord and with hearts that are thankful to Him, we can have joy and eternal rewards for our labor. Fruit is not just conversions and discipling others, but it is also character qualities (Galatians 5:22-23). Thus, seeing God continue to change our hearts even in less than desirable circumstances is reaffirming evidence that He still loves us and has a plan for us.
People may judge us or ridicule us based upon the job that we have, but in Christ our identity is not tied up in what we do but in how we do it. As believers, our career or present job does not define who we are, but it may well reveal who we are. However, if we are faithful in the little things, it only makes sense that God will open doors for us to be used in ways that maximize the gifting which He has given us. But our character must be refined first as we learn to give thanks in all things, in all jobs, and in whatever we do. But even if we end up staying in a place where we think we don’t belong, we must recognize God’s providential hand and seek out His purpose there. The command is to do what we do to God’s glory and with thanksgiving, and it is not contingent upon doing certain things versus other things. The command is that we do whatever we do with all of our hearts as worship to God. Perhaps the harder the challenge and more frustrating the circumstance, the greater our praise can be because the more faith it will require. God is good, and He will use us to bear abundant fruit according to His gifting of us at the proper time and in His perfect way. Of that we can be sure. It just might not look like how we always envisioned it would.