Have you ever prayed for something without really thinking about how exactly the Lord was going answer your prayer?
Looking back at the end of last year, my prayer was for the Lord to deepen my faith — in Him and His Word. Little did I know, in the months to come He would answer my request in a way I did not expect.
I was going through a somewhat normal season of life, just like we all go through seasons in our lives — some short, some long, some full of joy, some full of questioning or doubt, some seasons of suffering, and even some seasons of the Lord stripping things away from our lives (perhaps even good things).
For me, earlier this year was one of those hard seasons. I had been studying for my boards for several months. All of my expectations, all of my hard work, everything that I had planned for my life came to a sudden halt when I saw the word FAILED written on my phone screen. The tears started falling, as they did over the next three months as I wrestled with my failure, my identity, loneliness, fear, frustration, and really just crying out to the Lord with all of the emotions and questions of why.
The repercussions of not passing this test meant I lost my job. Stripped of my confidence, my plans and expectations wrecked, it was a difficult time. I wanted to run. I wanted to get away. I didn’t want people to know about my failure. But this test was the beginning of a difficult season the Lord used to deepen my faith.
Just before all this happened, I had spent some time studying Psalm 107. If you haven’t read it recently, go read it. God used these words of life in a time I needed to hear them most.
The psalmist begins by proclaiming that “the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.”
He then proceeds to share the stories of people who are weary, tired, in darkness, in difficult situations, and in brokenness. Every time, it says, “they cried out to the Lord,” and guess what? He heard them. He delivered them and rescued them.
In light of their current situations, the psalmist then calls the hearers to “consider the steadfast love of the Lord.” To simply consider.
These truths rang in my ears. These were the truths I needed to hear. These were the words of life that I needed to believe. Every day of my life, but during this time especially, I needed to be reminded of Psalm 107. I needed to be reminded that the love of the Lord does not change despite my circumstances and despite how I feel. I needed to be reminded that God is a God who hears my cries. But most importantly, as this Psalm so clearly depicts the gospel, I needed to be reminded of my desperate need to cling to truth and to believe the gospel.
In verse 29 the psalmist says, “He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.”
In my life, the storms felt like they were raging. But just as Jesus spoke to the physical waves when He was in the boat with His disciples, and they were stilled, He also has the power to say “be still” and bring peace to the storms in my life.
I didn’t understand the storm I was going through. But God did. The lyrics of the song “Good Good Father” began to have a deeper meaning, especially the part that says God is “perfect in all of [His] ways.”
When life is going great and as planned, I can sing these sweet promises with ease. But when life is not what I expect, when it doesn’t seem like God is in control — let alone like He knows what He’s doing — those words are hard to sing.
Yet in singing those lyrics, in proclaiming those truths from my heart, I came to another point of surrendering. God is God, and I am not. I was reminded that He alone is trustworthy and that even when life doesn’t make sense, Jesus is worthy of our trust and our worship. He is the giver of life. Not only does He give me words of life to cling to (all the time and also when I desperately need it), He is the Word of life. He alone satisfies. He is sovereign. He is good. And not only does His love endure, His Word endures forever.
Through this somewhat small trial in my life — I have friends who have walked through deep grief and are currently walking through deep suffering — the Lord graciously gave me His sweet Words of life to cling to, to get me through the storm, to get me through the hard season, and to sustain me.
It is by the grace of God that I can share this story with my faith family, because I want you to know that your failures do not define you.
My God is a God who redeems, who restores, and who uses my story and your story for His glory.
Beth Wilsman is a physical therapist in Birmingham. She has been a member of Brook Hills since 2015. She currently serves with City Ministries in Birmingham Gospel Outreach (BGO) and as a Singles 20s/30s small group leader.