Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. –1 Thessalonians 5:18
In this day and age, one of the driving purposes for many people is the journey of “finding yourself.” People of all ages are constantly asking the introspective questions of “Who am I?” “How do I find myself?” “What is it that I want to do for my life?”
Even many Christians have taken part in this pilgrimage to self-actualization. I find myself often flooded with thoughts and questions about when I’m going to get the opportunity to be the person I want to become. Often this form of Christian self-actualization is wrapped up in gushy talks of the great purpose God has for you. All of this way of thinking centers on one thing and that is the search for selfish gratification.
Let me say this to encourage you. God has a very specific purpose for your life. Before you were ever born God ordained all your days (Psalm 139:16). Even more specifically, if you are found in Christ God has gifted you with spiritual gifts to serve Christ and the Church (1 Cor 12:11). Be encouraged that God has a plan to use you to bring him glory. However, God’s plan may look very different than what you think your purpose should be.
Jesus told His disciples:
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? –Matthew 16:24-26
The life of the Christian is a life of imitating Christ. Christ is our example of godliness. We are to live a lifestyle that reflects the humility of Christ. The One who was the Eternal Logos, The Almighty God, came in the form of a servant to accomplish the Father’s will. Thus the words of Christ at Gethsemane should be the foundation of all our desires and dreams, “Not my will, but [the Fathers] will be done.”
We should not think that as servants of Christ we will not face hardship and disappointment serving Christ. Consider the Old Testament Prophets like Jeremiah who were constantly ignored and abused by the people of Judah. Consider all the hardships of Paul, how he was beaten, slandered, and shipwrecked. Consider those in Church History, like Adoniram Judson, the missionary to Burma. He was accused of being a spy for the English and was imprisoned in a Burmese prison where he was tortured so badly the only reason he did not take his own life was obedience to the sixth commandment. I highly doubt these men dreamed of being used for such a purpose, but they were faithful by God’s grace in the midst of trying circumstances–circumstances God ordained for them before the world was created (Phil 1:29).
I could go on and on speaking about the hardships of men like William Tyndale, John Knox, William Wilberforce, George Muller and so on. The reality is, God has a purpose for you that inevitably will come to pass. I can just about guarantee that the life He has called you to will not gratify all your vain desires and worldly comforts. Your ego, by God’s grace, will be shattered time and time again.
I commend you to know your place and give thanks to God for whatever trials, setbacks, and calamities you face. All things are controlled by God’s hand, the hand that both never be taken back (Isa 14:26-27) and the hand that will never let the believer go (John 10:28). He is in control, praise the Lord we are not.
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