Jeremiah spoke this prayer to God: “I know, O LORD, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). And the apostle Paul wrote: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). These two men of God were given a unique, difficult, and dangerous assignment. They were called upon to speak the word of God to a world that did not want to hear from God. Their calling was not easy. Their calling was not glamorous. They would both suffer and go through many trials and attempts on their lives. Their calling from God was not one that many of us would ask for God to give us. Jeremiah’s fellow countrymen and even his own family would seek to take his life. Paul was beaten, left for dead and endured many hardships for the gospel. As difficult as it may have been, these two men believed that God directed their steps and would somehow work for the good of those who were called to carry out his purpose.
I have been struggling with what God is calling me to do lately. There are moments when God’s direction for my life seems clear but there are many times when I have no idea what God is up to. I often feel like David who prayed: “I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way. In the path where I walk men have hidden a snare for me” (Psalm 142:1-3). We so often focus on the uncertainty of life instead of trusting God, who is directing our very lives and the path that we are called to travel upon. God wants us to trust him and realize that he is directing our every step. God is firmly in control of our lives and we must trust him and follow him, even if following him leads us down a difficult and challenging path.
When I am struggling with the direction that God is sending me, I often look to David for inspiration, especially as he is on the run from King Saul who wants to take his life. David frequently calls out to God for help in overcoming those who want to do him harm. His struggle against the ways of this world and his cry to God for help always helps me to put things in perspective.
“I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me” (Psalm 142:5-6).
I can relate when David talks about his spirit growing faint and weary. I can relate when David writes that his heart is dismayed as he is crying out for mercy and relief from those who relentlessly pursue him. I can relate to David when he is crying out for help, as he is in desperate need of God to answer him. When faced with the many trials and troubles of this world that we live in today, we also call upon God to come to our rescue and to save us from the sin and violence and uncertainty of this world that we live in.
But after David has finished crying out to God for mercy and understanding, he reflects upon how God has brought him through the many trials and challenges of life. He acknowledges God as his “refuge” and he “meditates” on all of God’s works and “considers” what God’s hand has done (Psalm 143:5). David never stops searching for God, and remembering God, in the midst of his trials and suffering. He knows that God has brought him through difficult times in his life and he trusts that God will continue to direct his steps and lead him in the way of righteousness.
Like Jeremiah, Paul, and David, I believe in a God who actively “directs” our steps, who “works for the good of those who love him”, and is our “refuge.” God calls you to follow him and the path that he calls you to follow will likely be difficult, painful, and challenging. But in the end, it will most certainly be rewarding. We all must go through times of testing and refinement in order to become what God has created us to be. Those moments define us and our life of faith. And one day, we will see how all the events of life come together in God’s glorious design for shaping us to be what he calls us to be.
“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground” Psalm 143:10).