When things are difficult one of the most helpful questions I’ve learned to ask is, “Jesus, what’s going on here?” Having some sense of God’s perspective on your problems can change everything. His perspective helps you understand what’s going on, lightens your emotional load, and helps you know where to direct your mental, physical, and spiritual energies.
Knowing what’s going on doesn’t always change your circumstances, but it usually changes your internal experience. I’ve seen the frustration patients experience when they don’t have an explanation for their symptoms. And I’ve seen the change when they have a diagnosis. Even if the diagnosis is serious, just knowing what they’re dealing with helps so much.
And regardless of what your problem is, some understanding of what’s going on helps also.
When you are facing something difficult or confusing, get alone with God, let your soul become still, and ask “Jesus, what’s going on here?” Here are a few categories that may be in play.
Consequences of My Own Choices
Now don’t go heaping guilt and shame on yourself. Remember, that’s the enemy’s strategy. Self-contempt never is helpful. Some people tend naturally to see themselves as “at fault” while others tend to blame others. Neither is usually the whole truth. But it is helpful to consider what role your own thoughts, words, actions, choices, attitudes, etc. may have played in whatever you’re facing right now. This might be something sinful, but it might not be. It might be a lie you came to believe, a hurt from the past, or something you just haven’t learned yet.
The good news is that when you had a role in the development of the problem, you can definitely have a role in changing things. You can learn new interpersonal skills, develop a greater level of resilience, discover how to direct your mind in healthy ways, make changes in your lifestyle, get some help to grow in a specific area, give God access to a part of your heart you haven’t yet so He can change you.
In other words, “You don’t have to live like this!” You can do something different.
Consequences of Other’s Bad Behavior
You live in a world where others also live. And those people are sinners. Sometimes you get the fallout of other’s bad behavior through no fault of your own. Some people act in hurtful ways without fully appreciating the harm they may cause, or because of their own weaknesses. And there are also those who have an evil heart, who enjoy inflicting pain and abuse on others.
Even when experiencing evil from others, Jesus prayed “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Forgiveness is not easy, but it’s something we are called to do as followers of Jesus. Don’t rush it; it takes time. And forgiveness does not mean you are required to trust that person(s) again. The relationship is not always restored. But when you’re hurt by others, the long and careful process of forgiveness is the way to set you free.
Living in a Sinful Messed-up World
Ultimately sin is the cause of all the badness we experience in the world, but there may not be a direct cause-and-effect relationship between a particular person’s (or group’s) sin and this specific bad circumstance. Some stuff just happens. A virus or a genetic mutation makes someone sick. An earthquake or a flood destroys people’s homes. An accident causes injury or death. There’s nothing in Scripture that promises followers of Jesus are spared the consequences of living in a sinful messed-up world.
And yet the kingdom of God is here–not in fullness yet, but in reality. God is still in the business of doing miracles. There are plenty of things we can’t explain both good and bad, and it’s a measure of maturity to not have to have an explanation for everything. We can learn to trust God both with what we know and with what we don’t know. One of the things we can be sure of is that this is not the end of the story. Sin and death will be done away with. God will make everything right.
Direct Spiritual Warfare
We have an enemy, one who is alive and well–and completely evil. Not everything is spiritual warfare, but without the category of spiritual warfare there’s a lot that doesn’t make sense. Satan hates you not because you’re “all that,” but because He hates God, and you’re God’s child. And you can understand important signs about when you’re under spiritual attack.
Understanding the category of spiritual warfare can provide a great deal of internal fuel to keep moving forward. You are not powerless against Satan. Jesus gained complete victory against the kingdom of darkness, and we can take advantage of that victory now. A key way we do that is through prayer. You can come to the place where you take your stand fearlessly, and nothing can move you.
Take some time to ask, “Jesus, what’s going on here?” The above categories are not exhaustive or mutually exclusive. You need God’s perspective to have a sense of where you are, and even more importantly what to do next.
And that’s part two: “Jesus, what step do You need me to take next?” Sometimes simply having a sense of what’s going on will immediately make the next step obvious. Don’t run ahead of God; keep checking with Him. But almost always He invites you to work together with Him in moving forward regardless of whether the outside circumstances change or not.
Your Turn: What challenge are you facing right now? Have you asked Jesus to interpret it for you? What do you sense about His answer? Leave a comment below.
Tweetables: why not share this post?
- When facing something confusing or difficult, prayerfully ask, “Jesus, what’s going on here?” Take time to listen for His answer. That will change everything. Tweet that.
In Need of a Breakthrough?
The category of spiritual warfare is a big one. Facing challenges requires more than “Jesus, help me!” You need some strategies and tactics that can work for any problem you face.
Our Powerful Breakthrough Prayers course helps you apply these strategies and tactics, and especially focuses on effective spiritual warfare.