There have been times in my life that I felt I was just certain I knew the outcome of a particular situation—a job interview for a promotion went well, an application for a volunteer assignment that was a great fit for my gifts and experience. I just “knew” that I was going to receive the promotion or assignment…and then I didn’t. How disappointed I was! I thought I had things all planned out only to be told “no” or “not yet.”
Days, weeks, sometimes even years later, after reflecting on the situations and outcomes based on decisions I made in light of those circumstances, I have been able to see the good, and even joy that have come in the aftermath of those disappointments. This helps me understand Romans8:28 which says, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” It’s often hard to see in the moment of pain or sadness. Hearing someone say “everything happens for a reason” feels like they are minimizing or trivializing that darkness. Even more, it suggests that God personally caused our pain or disappointment.
A prayer journal can help us remember the times we’ve prayed through a struggle and we receive an answer. I know many people who write down their prayers (both joys and concerns) in a notebook or journal, and then review and reflect on those periodically. When there is some sort of response—an update over a health concern, a new opportunity that occurred only after another one was no longer available—these notes are added to the prayer journal as answers to prayer. After a while we begin to see how God can work good out of a situation, no matter how dire it seems at the time. God’s grace can redeem all things we experience into opportunities for us to reflect God’s love to others. Seeing these occasions written down in black and white helps me to grow in my trust of God to be present and working in every situation I experience—whether good or challenging.
Are there times you can think of in your life where God has been actively working to bring about positive outcomes even in the midst of turmoil? Perhaps you can reflect on those times and begin a prayer journal as a way to remind yourself of God’s grace and desire for good things in your life when you next face a difficult time.
Prayer: God, I ask in times of darkness that I trust you to work some sort of good out of the situation. Help me when I turn away from you in fear. Bring me close to you again, Oh Lord, when I’m facing a challenge. Remind me that you are present with me at all times, whether I feel it or not. Restore my courage, strengthen my resolve to hold on to my faith and trust in you in all things. Help me remember that your grace is sufficient for all. Amen.