What to Do When You Don’t Understand What God is Doing

By Erica Barthalow on May 14, 2021 10:21 am

I stared at the email, beautifully and kindly worded but nevertheless soul-crushing. It was the period at the end of a season that had felt pregnant with the possibility of long-held dreams coming true. Some I never even truly had the courage to hope for. And just like that—it was over. Or so it seemed.

What made it even more devastating, even more discouraging, was I was sure I had heard the Lord whisper confirmation to my heart only a week earlier that he was indeed opening some of these doors in front of me.


Had I heard him wrong? Did I manufacture his voice? Delude myself into thinking I had heard something I so desperately wanted to be true?


Have you ever been there?


Wondering if God is playing a game with you? Or if you really just don’t know how to hear his voice? And what does his voice even sound like anyway?

We’re going to tackle these questions and some others related to prayer in upcoming posts (subscribe now so you don’t miss out! You’ll also get my free guide: 3 Questions to Revolutionize Your Prayer Life Forever!)


But in the meantime, what I’m discovering is that God—every single time—is playing the long game. I’m only seeing what’s happening right in front of me. But he sees the end from the beginning. As Mark Batterson says in Win the Day, “We think right here, right now. God is thinking nations and generations.”


I am far too easily discouraged. And so very short-sighted.


I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this though. Even Jesus’s disciples couldn’t see or understand what he was doing, even when he spelled it out quite clearly.


But the more I sat with my disappointment and confusion, the more it became clear that God is not like me. This shouldn’t be a shocker. He literally says his thoughts are not our thoughts, his ways are not our ways (Is. 55:8-9). And yet…


As a human being I don’t have a framework for that. So I go to work trying to make God “understandable.” Manageable. More like me.


But I don’t want a god in my own image.


I need a God who can take a global pandemic and use it to set women and children in sexual slavery free from their prisons (this is actually happening, and if you’d like to know more about a wonderful organization on the front lines of this very real battlefield, check out Project Rescue)! But these are the kinds of things our God does. He turns hopeless situations into powerful stories of redemption and purpose. Often while we look on and have no idea what he’s doing behind the scenes.


If you’re in the middle of it right now. And God seems confusing, hold on to what you know. He is kind and he’s got a good plan. You just probably can’t see it yet. But you will. I just know it.

Picture: credited to ibelieve.com

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