Life’s Lessons

Q. My question pertains to decision making on non-moral matters. In moral cases I believe the Holy Spirit places convictions on our hearts to do the right thing. I’m talking about the non-moral ones such as deciding whether to stay put or move, or playing it safe and being content in my current situation versus taking a risk and trying something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. My most recent life decision did not work out as I had hoped. I learned many things in the process but it was painful. Is this a symptom of not living in fellowship with God or are there important decisions in life that God expects us to use the resources we have to figure out on our own?

A. I think the Bible contains a number of “base line” life principles for believers. Some that could apply in this case are, “I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10), “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28), “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33), and “Rejoice in all things. I say it again rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). These aren’t meant just for some, but for all believers.

When I thought of these in a purely “success and happiness” kind of way, I had a hard time reconciling them with my experiences. Then I began seeing the bigger picture and realized the abundant life involves gaining wisdom and perspective as well. Learning life’s lessons can be difficult, but God works even those for the good of those who love Him, and they too are cause for rejoicing. Knowing there’s a silver lining behind every dark cloud and learning to look for it with the expectation of finding it can make a painful experience turn out to have been beneficial in retrospect.

Going through a difficult period is not necessarily an indication of being out of fellowship. In fact it might be the opposite. It might be the preparation phase for something bigger and better than you realize.

If you think you’re out of fellowship, confessing your sins will bring forgiveness and restoration (1 John 1:9). If the difficult times persist, start looking for the blessing that’s sure to follow, and begin rejoicing.

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