The only way God can show us He is in control is to put us in situations we cannot control. We have little or no power over natural disasters, weather, death, the actions of others, aging, famine, and who is in our family. However, nothing is beyond the power of God. Everything is possible since God is a powerful and artistic Creator. We need to remember this when we find ourselves painted in landscapes we do not especially like.
“For with God, nothing will be impossible.” Luke 1:37 (NKJV)
For Noah, the weather was an issue. He was painted into an aquatic landscape. Due to the sinful wickedness of mankind, God actually regretted creating man. However, He was aware of Noah’s righteousness and lovingly reached out to him. Noah’s obedience and faith saved the human race but he still had to endure hardships in order to survive. So much death and loss were necessary for God’s vision to play out, but Noah did not debate God’s plan or decision. He simply accepted God as just, put his head down, and got to work on building the ark.
“So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6:7-8 (NKJV)
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’
declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
Moses was painted into several different landscapes. He lived in poverty and extravagant wealth. He lived in civilized lands and in a wilderness. Like the apostle Paul, he learned to be content in all circumstances.
“ I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)
Finally, consider the mother of Jesus. The Virgin Mary was painted into a masterpiece of sexual scandal. She had to endure looks of disapproval from her community. Facing judgment for acts she never committed and hearing that her betrothed wanted to divorce must have wounded her greatly. But, God is always faithful and loving. Although Mary did not ask God to paint her into such a tour de force, she humbly submitted to His brushstrokes. Although she endured much sorrow and pain as the mother of Christ, God faithfully carried her through every trial. The paintings of God are beyond a beauty we can understand. Our life is a canvas which God strokes with colors only He can conceive and appreciate right now.
When we are faced with hardships beyond our control or ability to bear, we must lean into God’s provisions and strength. How can one find serenity during such times? A good start is to live one moment at a time. Step-by-step we can get through a day, a week, a month, then even a year. Learning to live one day at a time while enjoying one moment at a time will ease suffering, make us more aware of God’s presence, and allow us to accept hardships as new pathways to spiritual maturity and serenity. Surrendering our will to His, relying on the promises within God’s Word, and trusting that He will eventually make all things right should move us closer into a unity with the Holy Spirit.
May the Lord comfort those who require comfort, strengthen those in need of strength, guide those requesting direction, provide for those in need, and provide hope for the hopeless. Indeed, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV)