A Time of Testing: When Obedience Disappoints and Hurts

“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. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”Romans 8:28-29

I failed. A better mother could have found a way.

I kept coming back to these two thoughts the entire month leading up to moment when the 3 children, whom I had been mom to for a year, would leave our house and move to another foster home. My husband and I had to make the absolute heart wrenching decision that we could no longer safely parent these 3 siblings along with our other 3 and this truth was too much to bear.

My heart cried out, “God, why was I asked to do this? Why did you ask me to be their mom for a year only to wrench them from our lives now?”
Pain and confusion filled my mind and an overwhelming feeling of failure filled my heart.

It didn’t seem fair. It seemed like a mistake was made. I daily fought within myself. I know God is good and powerful and His will is perfect, but I also knew the pain I and my entire family felt.

Have you ever felt like this? You know you were called to something, you obeyed, but now it is falling apart around you? What do you do?

The good news is you aren’t alone. In 1 Kings 19, we see Elijah struggling with this same feeling. If we go back to chapter 18 verses 1-2, After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.”  So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.” we can clearly see that he heard God’s voice to go to Ahab. Elijah obeyed. This act of obedience brought with it an amazing display of God’s power. (If you haven’t read 1 Kings 18: 20-46 recently, you really should.) But then, things started to not go the way Elijah expected. His life is in danger that we find him in chapter 19 verse 4, “while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”,” totally disillusioned and prayed that he might die.

This is the part of the story that I was at during this time. I heard God’s voice to foster these kids and obeyed. I had seen God do amazing things through this. But now, I was confused and disillusioned. Is this where you are, too?

The amazing part of Elijah story is that God provided for him, physically, spiritually and even, relationally. In the next verses, God supernaturally provided for food and water. And in verses 11-13, the Lord passed by Elijah. Then at the end of chapter 19, God sent him to other believers. At this time, Elijah’s life was still in danger. While God did not take the danger away, He did provide Elijah everything he needed.

During this time in my life God provided so sweetly for me just as he had for Elijah, even though He chose not to change the situation. While my heart was still broken and I still had empty bedrooms, God lavishly provided strength and Godly friends who gave me much comfort.

It was not easy– I cried a lot, for months and struggled with lies of being a failure and a bad mom. I did feel cheated and confused, but I committed to seeking Godly counsel to help me through this. I declared my trust in God’s will and promises, and reaffirmed the truth to my heart that God is sovereign, good and trustworthy. When I slipped into self pity, I would rely on others to speak God’s truth into my life. One verse that I clung to at that time was Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” 

Sometimes we get to see how God uses these situations for good, but sometimes we don’t. Even if we may never know the “why” we have to battle against our emotions, we have to trust that there is a reason and that God is after our good, because He is a good and loving Father.

If your calling is not turning out the way you thought, I want you to know that you are not alone. My heart breaks for you. I implore you to not allow yourself to believe the lies. Go to God and His word. Cry out to Him because He will hear you. Surround yourself with Godly counsel. Be honest with them and allow them to point you to God’s truth. Go back to His promises and character which are revealed in the Scriptures. Fight against the urge to isolate yourself. Just as Elijah needed to get out of isolation, so do you! Then be aware and see all the ways He will sweetly provide for you during this time. Cherish all the ways he sustains you. It will not be easy. It will be a daily struggle, but God is good and trustworthy. Stand on that, even if it is with tears in your eyes.

Our obedience may not give us the result we expected, but it always leads us closer to God. That, in itself, is the greatest reward. And if we want to see His power working through our life, we choose to obey, whatever it costs. Because obedience matters to God. 

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IMG_20190105_102002_01 - Ginger BaergGinger Baerg has been married for 16 years, and has 5 kids (3 biological and 2 adopted). She teaches high school math. Ginger loves corny jokes, card/board games and physical activity and is so thankful that God’s grace is new every morning!

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