“Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup; You have made my lot secure” Psalm 16:5.
“Whatever happens is assigned.” Those four words leapt off the page of Elisabeth Elliot’s devotional book at me. Whatever? Including the mortgage lender who failed to lock in the interest rate we requested, costing us thousands of dollars? Was it God’s assignment for our daughter to experience trials in high school that caused great pain and depression? Scripture confirms that which seems hard to grasp. God does whatever pleases Him.
He is unchangeable, and who can turn Him back? What He desires, that he does. For He will complete what He appoints for me, and many such things are in His mind” Job 23:13-14.
If we truly believed that all things are under His control and that all things are appointed according to His good purposes for us and the world, how would our lives look different? Would we spend so much energy trying to control what happens in our daily lives?
And, if we truly grasped what Christ did for us through His life, death, and resurrection, remembering that, because He walked alone to Calvary and bore our sins on the Cross, we will never have to walk alone; would we worry and fret so much about what tomorrow may bring, as if we’ll have to face our troubles with our own resources and in our own strength?
The doctrine of God’s sovereignty brings peace to our souls when we trust that His love determines, assigns, equips, and empowers us for every path of life He leads us down.
“All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness for those who keep His covenant and His testimonies,” Psalm 25:10.
While God hates, and will one day judge all sin, His love will not allow us to rely on the false peace and rest we experience when life is going our way. To that end, He brings trials and pressures to test our hearts and show us our need for grace. And the more we are trained by grace, the more we rejoice in God’s commitment to our transformation.
Here are 4 ways to cultivate a quiet heart in the midst of the chaotic world around us.
1. Behold God: We must study and meditate on God’s word in order to increase our knowledge and understanding of who He is and what He has done on behalf of rebellious sinners like you and me. By nature, we tend to see ourselves as big and God as small.
The truth is, our God is Lord of all. Creator of all things, He rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He will. He does according to His will and none can stay His hand or say to Him, “What have you done?” (Daniel 4) Our God is loving and kind, yet He is also greatly to be feared. He is the Potter and we are the clay. He is holy and there is no one like Him.
Our temptation is to create and worship a god who is comfortable and feels safe. But false gods have no power to protect or rescue anyone, including us. Behold the God of the Bible who delivered His people out of the hand of Pharaoh, parted the Red Sea, brought water out of a rock, stilled the storm, healed the sick, resurrected the dead, and saves rebellious sinners, adopting us as His very own children. It is this God who offers us rest in the midst of our darkest night.
2. Preach the gospel to yourself. It’s easy to slip into the mindset that, while God saved us from eternal death, we can become godly through self effort and good works. The power that saved us is the same power that will transform us as we put off sin and walk according to who we are in Christ. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence…” 2 Peter 1:3. We can do nothing apart from Him but as we learn to depend on the Holy Spirit, we will experience increasing freedom and victory.
Has your heart become disquieted because of a difficult marriage, a misunderstanding, a child’s rebellion, being single, devastating illness, financial stresses, or other disappointments? We find peace by remembering all that Christ did to save us from eternal unrest and being God’s enemy forever.
While the gospel is unbelievably Good News, we must not forget that the cross comes before the crown. For a short time, we must walk by faith until at last we are united with Christ and pain and suffering are no more.
3. Accept God’s assignment. Our response to the things that touch our lives, whether they seem insignificant or shake us to the core, matter more than we may think. We know God hates sin and sacrificed His own Son to redeem us from the power it has over us. We find comfort in remembering that God will hold all men accountable for their sin and that justice will be served. And yet, until then, God often uses what we hate to accomplish what He loves; the transformation of sinners to saints, lovers of self to Christ-exalting lovers of God.
Our flesh is tempted to accuse God of being unfair or unkind when circumstances threaten our happiness. We want what we perceive will make our lives easier, happier, or more comfortable-now!
The truth is that resistance to what God has allowed will only serve to make life more difficult. While life is hard, we can trust God’s goodness and commitment to our everlasting joy. When we submit to His authority and invite Him to have His way in our lives, our hearts become quieter and we glorify His Name.
4. Trust God’s wisdom even when nothing makes sense. A quiet heart is content with what God gives, choosing to believe that He has not been too busy ruling the world to notice what is happening in our lives.
Consider Paul who beheld the risen Christ! He had been chosen and called to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, but he never stopped preaching it to himself. God assigned many trials to Paul, causing him at one point to despair of life itself. Finally, locked in a prison cell, he chose to trust God’s wisdom, in spite of his inability to do the very ministry he’d been called to do.
Paul doesn’t show us a downcast man incapacitated by his circumstances but, rather, a man who saw his imprisonment as part of God’s plan for the glory of the gospel. In the darkness of his prison cell, the gospel was his light and joy. When everything else was stripped away, Paul learned that Jesus was enough. And in accepting what God had allowed, Paul redeemed the time by writing letters to the churches, God’s inspired words for those who would believe.
How about you? Do you believe that Jesus is enough for you in your hard place? When we trust His wisdom and love, God will use our hardest circumstances as a platform from which to serve Him.
The plans we have sometimes seem to be thwarted by circumstances out of our control. But God’s plans cannot be thwarted. He will accomplish His purposes for our lives and for the world. The more we come to know Him, the more we will trust Him. The more we understand the full gospel, the easier it will be to accept the assignments He gives and walk in obedience. And the more we submit to His Lordship, the more we’ll see that what God appoints is exactly what is needed for us to experience every blessing He wants to give us.
Thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you,