Have you ever had a moment when things seem to work out just right? When coincidences are so apparent there has to be someone guiding circumstances on our behalf? Maybe you've experienced a seemingly tragic moment that eventually culminated in tremendous blessing, and in retrospect you clearly see the hand of God? Most of us have had these experiences. And in the Body of Christ we love to share how God “shows up,” and like a super hero, swoops in and saves the day! We tend to call these moments, “God moments.” Or, we’ll say, “It was a God thing.” And we are right — it is a God thing! By calling these situations God moments we generally mean God has taken a circumstance that appears to be negative or difficult and turns it into a positive experience or a blessing. It was that time you didn't know how you were going to afford that bill or pay for new school clothes for the kids, and then somehow, someway, you received an anonymous gift card or a random check in the mail because you overpaid on your state taxes last year. And just like that, Jesus stepped in and saved the day! Or, maybe for some, it was that deal that didn't go through and you later find the other company was corrupt or had filed bankruptcy, which would've cost your company hundreds of thousands of dollars. You know your story.
The problem with calling these moments “God moments” is what it inevitably says about all the other moments we encounter — they are not. We usually like to quote Romans 8:28 when we struggle to articulate or process the frustrating, hard, painful, debilitating moments of life — “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV). And you better believe this is a solid bet-your-life-on kind of truth; he is working for the good of those who love him! I'm in no way diminishing that truth. However, this doesn't always mean the “God moments” are when things “work out,” get better, or finally make perfect sense. If what we call “God moments” only consist of these kinds of moments, what about the time the marriage didn't mend, or you lose the job, or when you couldn't pay that bill? What about the child who dies, the cancer that takes a spouse… even when you pleaded and cried out to God for healing? What about when your teen or adult child battles a terrible drug addiction? Was this when God let you down? Were these moments when God forsook you? Were these the moments when God was not good? Additionally, what makes these experiences even more difficult is when we watch many Christian movies depicting joyful endings, where everything ends positively and finally makes perfect sense. But, this isn't real life! Many times it never make sense... and the endings are tragic. So what about these moments? Are these also, “God moments?”
Several weeks ago a few men from our church and I took our teenage boys on a three day right-of-passage hiking trip in the hills of southern Ohio. Although the trip was a great experience, with great connecting moments and fun, let’s just say the trip was less than comfortable — lots of sweat, sleeping on the hard ground, fighting the ticks, and lugging a 50lb. backpack up steep inclines. Physically it was just plain uncomfortable! Not being very athletic, I found myself many times trailing behind at the rear of the pack. Yet, while straggling along in the rear of the pack, our guide Myron was usually hanging out with me for encouragement through the rough hills. By the way, what a great model of a true leader; thank you Myron! One thing Myron repeatedly told me was, “You have to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.” Now, I have to be honest, at the time, huffing and puffing through the trail, it really wasn't that inspiring; more frustrating than anything. However, as the day was coming to a close, all the tents pitched and the fire dwindling out, we finally had some downtime to reflect on the day. Laying in my tent I seriously began to ponder Myron’s words. Is it really possible to be comfortable being uncomfortable, I thought? Isn't the very antonym for comfort discomfort? I mean… how can I experience comfort in discomfort? Needless to say, I could NOT wrap my head around Myron’s philosophy… but I wanted to. I REALLY wanted to. Imagine the life-change it would make if I could learn to be comfortable in moments of discomfort.
I have to admit, usually when I'm experiencing discomfort I become cranky, frustrated, irritated, angry, and impatient. And I honestly hate that about myself! Even worse, when I look at the rest of the world around me, I find most of us are like this. I think this is why we yell at our kids over little things that inconvenience us, why we complain at work, bicker about the honey-do list, or get angry and impatient in traffic even when we aren't in a hurry. These moments aren't as tragic as the loss of a loved one, or watching a child struggle through a debilitating drug addiction. But they are still moments of discomfort and frustration. Nonetheless, any of them are moments we would think to call “God moments.”
The truth is all of these moments are moments God has prepared. Yes, they are all divine moments, including the difficult ones. They are in fact God’s will for our lives! Proverbs 16:9 states, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (ESV). Ephesians 2:10 also explains, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”(ESV). God is sovereign over each and every moment of our lives, whether we choose to believe it or not. Even in the darkness and sin permeating through our society today, God is sovereign! You want to know what God’s will is for you today? It may be laying tile, fixing your leaky roof, battling with your heathen children, fighting off a debilitating headache, and on and on. This doesn't mean every moment (divine moment) is painful and difficult, it simply means God’s will for your life consists of both. Inevitably, we say we want God’s will, but if it means a loss, something difficult, hurtful, frustrating, painful, or even confusing, we would rather take a pass and wait for an easier road. Am I right?
We must understand God’s will is not some ethereal event you're waiting to encounter, it is the present moment you're living in right now! I often tell our Pastor I sometimes hate God’s will. Yes, I said hate it… and you do too! Let me prove my point. Have you ever gotten mad when your vehicle broke down? Have you ever been frustrated in heavy traffic and mumbled a few expletives under your breath (or maybe out loud)? Have you ever yelled at your child for spilling a glass or making an honest mistake they have no control over? You get the picture, right? What I mean is sometimes we hate how uncomfortable God’s will can make our lives. Am I hitting a nerve for anyone? The reality is, God is sovereign over ALL moments! Yes, even heavy traffic and flat tires. All of them! And, God’s will is often uncomfortable, even painful. And if my greatest pursuits in life are comfort and leisure, if these are the only moments bringing me “joy,” how can I ever find joy in the will of God? I won’t! We won’t! Here is where Myron’s Philosophy (which Myron would say, "It's Jesus' philosophy, I just put a new spin on the wording!") comes into play — comfort in discomfort.
The truth is, I really want to find joy in God’s will. Even in the hard moments (which happen more often than the easy ones). And any person with God’s Spirit dwelling within them will feel the call also. We want to pursue God and be in step with where he is leading. However, if all moments are “God moments,” if many of these moments are uncomfortable, and if being uncomfortable has the tendency to steal our joy, then we must learn to find comfort in discomfort! I realize it’s a major shift in how we process the world around us, our situations, and the circumstances we find ourselves in. However, what I'm beginning to learn is that it is possible! Seeing all moments as “God moments” doesn't remove the significance of those wonderful and miraculous moments when God’s hand is clearly seen. What this new mindset ultimately changes is the value and significance of every seemingly insignificant moment, replacing the menial for the divine. Beyond that, even moments of leisure and pleasure take on a new shape and reverence in this light! Every moment becomes divine, causing us to realize we are constantly living in the Kingdom of God; under the Kingship of Christ.
Earlier I had asked if the tragic, difficult, and painful moments are also “God moments.” I would conclude, yes they are! Unfortunately many tragedies, difficulties, and even our own mortality are a result of our fallen world. However, we can take heart in knowing that every single moment has already been calculated into God’s perfect will. Not only his will for you and I, but his eternal will and purpose in every corner of the universe! Nothing we experience in God’s plan and purpose is arbitrary or wasted. All things are significant and divine. We must never forget that every single moment we experience God has led us through with the love of a gentle Father, a perfect Father. A Father who is innately good; especially to his bride - The Church. Furthermore, God doesn't get joy from our pain. But, he does find joy in the midst of it because he knows the ending! He knows how each moment is molding in us the fabric of the character of Christ, who was compassionate when hated, gentle when reviled, a mender of hearts while broken. He experienced all of these things without surrendering his eternal joy in the midst of the uncomfortable.
When our hope is in him. When we learn to catch a glimpse of the eternal in every moment. When every moment becomes divine. If we can to tear down the idol of comfort. Only then will we also share Christ’s joy, even in the midst of the uncomfortable moments - God moments.