Published June 26, 2012
Recently I've been battling a bad head cold. I used to get them all the time. Less so in recent years, thankfully. But as miserable as I've felt, I like to look for ways God can use that to teach me something. In fact, feeling miserable is just one tool God sometimes uses to get our attention. Many times, for example, it's true when He wants to call someone to some new form of ministry. Let me explain...
Before starting "The Gospel Greats" program in 1980, I was news director at the leading TV station in the 44th market. It was challenging. Broadcast journalism was my passion. But I increasingly felt this was not where I was supposed to be. I fought off the feeling for as long as I could. After all, this was the kind of work I loved to do. But, eventually, it was as if I had no choice I had to leave.
Today I can look back and know that that was God making me uncomfortable in my position so that I would begin my present work. Had I continued to fight off that change, I think I would have become increasingly miserable and the program you know today as "The Gospel Greats" would not have happened (at least by my hand). Besides, God had allowed me time to gain experience that would be invaluable in putting today's program together.
Brian Free told me of a similar feeling before he left Gold City many years ago. "I was restless and didn't know why. Everybody in such a position goes through periods when they wonder if this is what they're supposed to be doing, if it's the Lord's will. [But] I was very hard-headed. I loved being with Gold City... And really the last year-and-a-half I felt in my spirit that the Lord was telling me it's time to move... I felt, really, that if I didn't do it, I would miss out on a blessing. And I would be out of God's will."
If you have heart-to-heart talks with pastors, missionaries or anyone involved in some form of fulltime ministry, you'll probably get similar stories. God made them miserable until they surrendered to God to do what He was calling them to do. You might have your own story along these lines.
And there's another way God works. Sometimes you hear people talk about how God opened so many doors for them. That's wonderful. God often does, indeed, work that way. But I was often too hard-headed to see that happening in my life. So, as I look back now, I can see that God has directed my life by first closing doors I stubbornly wanted to go through, so that I would take another look around and find the doors He actually wanted me to go through. Such changes weren't easy. But, in retrospect, they were definitely the best course.
And this principle can apply to other specific aspects of your life, too. If you feel miserable in some part of your life, perhaps it is God trying to get you to make a change in that part of your life. Perhaps it's a career. Perhaps it's the particular church you attend. Perhaps it's your choice of friends. This definitely should become a matter of prayer for God's guidance. And discuss it with trusted Christian counselors, such as your pastor or Sunday School teacher.
God wants to work in your life, if you'll let Him. He wants to mold you, change you, improve you and make you more like Him. He has a plan for your life which He is willing to unveil, if you'll let Him provide the guidance. But you need to be open to such direction and be sure it's His leading, and not simply working out your own desires.
Then, when you're truly walking in His will for you life, you won't be "feeling miserable" anymore.
As the old hymn says,
"Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand."
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