What to do - when the plan of God for our lives seems to be thwarted; when tribulation comes and it seems as though it will never end?
Just as it was for Job, it is a hard thing for us to accept that the extreme difficulties of life are a part of God's divine plan and dream for us. This is true whether these 'extreme difficulties' are caused by our actions of sin, or just difficulties that God has allowed to happen to us as he did Job. It is always going to be about our faith. Do we trust him... or not? He shakes our faith, and He is ever so quietly asking us "Do you still trust me?" If we are honest, I think the answer out of our tears would be: "Lord I believe, help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24 NKJV).
God asks us to rejoice in Him always, as His plan for us has not been thwarted in any way because of the tribulations we are going through - self caused or not. If you need confirmation on this, here it is: "Rejoice in The Lord always, again I say rejoice" (Philippians 4:4 NKJV); and again: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 NKJV). The very next verse tells us: "Do not quench the Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 5:20 NKJV). In other words when we don't rejoice in times of trouble, we are quenching the very Person who can help through these tough times - the Holy Spirit. It is in our rejoicing through the pain the God fills us with His Spirit. This can happen because His Spirit already dwells within us as believers, and He knows that we need a constant filling of the Spirit. It is this filling of the Holy Spirit that gives us the supernatural joy and peace that surpasses knowledge, and it will guard our hearts and minds in difficult times (Philippians 4:7).
If you are having trouble with this, you can simply speak or sing out loud the following verses as the profit Habakkuk did: "Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls -- Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills." (Habakkuk 3:17-19).
Or, you can cry out the same thing Job did: "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him" (Job 13:15 NKJV).
Or, you can simply praise the name of Jesus in your pain: "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name" (Hebrews 13:15 NKJV).
We can see now that rejoicing in our pain is offering a sacrifice of praise to God our Father. He is lovingly trying to get us to come to this place in our faith: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28 NKJV).
Although God's dream plan for you includes difficult days and sometimes years, it is all just a means to and end. God's end result in the plans He has for you are summarized very nicely in the 3 verses right after Romans 8:28: "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:29-3 NKJV)
The end result of all this life's experiences, good and bad, is to conform us to the very image of God our Father's Son, Jesus Christ. And while we are in this Chapter, lets read to the end of Chapter 8. Verses 32 to 39 tell the rest of the story:
"He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: 'For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.' Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
May God bless you in your sufferings. Remember, it's His plan for you. Let's offer Him our sacrifice of praise today and every day!