* I originally wrote this post as part of a summer book club on the Revive Our Hearts blogs, and though it is based on You Can Trust God to Write Your Story by Nancy and Robert Wolgemuth, these words beat from my heart and can connect with you—whether or not you’ve read their book.
I’ve never mentioned this to Robert Wolgemuth before, but many of us on the Revive Our Hearts staff would love nothing more than to gather ’round the fireplace in Robert and Nancy’s living room for an evening of Storytime with Robert—because he’s an incredible storyteller.
With Robert and Nancy seated by the fire, the rest of us would curl up on the couch cushions with chamomile tea, while Robert pulls a story from his mental rolodex to share with his eager listeners. His presentation and articulation would draw us in, and because he’s a particularly fascinating person, entertainment and thought-stirring conversation would be guaranteed. It wouldn’t matter what story he told, because his ability to infuse even a difficult story with hope and humor is unmatched. In fact, I’d rather get lost in the soft and soothing storytelling of this author than think about the ever-turning pages of my own story.
My story is messy. My story has more conflict and drama than I’d hoped to encounter. My story isn’t one I’d want to see printed in ink on the pages of a book.
You, Me, Joseph, the Israelites, Job, and God
Some days I feel like Joseph, sitting in a dark and suffocatingly hot Egyptian prison cell after being falsely accused.
Why am I suffering when I’m the one who has been wronged?
Some days I feel like an Israelite anxiously standing on the shore of the Red Sea, watching waves crash against rocks while my former captors charge toward me on a chariot.
Where am I supposed to go from here? How can I possibly get through this?
Some days I feel like Job, staring at loss, wondering if God means what He says about being faithful and kind to His children.
Can I stomach another blow? I’m done. I can’t handle this. God, what’s going on?
This is what it looks like in the middle of the story—right in the thick of the plot. Are you there, too? In the mess? In the there’s-no-way-this-is-going-to-work-out gunk of a story gone sideways?
Joseph, the Israelites, and Job were in the middle of their stories, and—praise God—we can turn the page and read the record of God’s faithfulness in maddening, impossible, and painful circumstances. We need to see the middle to appreciate the end.
We need to see Joseph alone in his prison cell, because we need to know that “waiting rooms” are never wasted. God’s mind-blowing timing and all-powerful ability to arrange situations for outrageous good is our hope.
We need to see the Israelites desperate for rescue in a backs-against-the-wall crisis, because we need to know that God doesn’t abandon His children. He can and will deliver us through miraculous Red Sea moments. His unstoppable intervention is our hope.
We need to see Job questioning God as he processes soul-shaking grief, because we will face loss and body-wracking pain in this world, and we need to remember we aren’t alone. Our faith may falter in those dark valleys. But God’s forever-faithful love despite our most honest doubts is our hope.
He is the sovereign God who knows how to time circumstances perfectly, who doesn’t leave His people stranded, who holds our most vulnerable selves in sacred safety, and who keeps working for our good and for His ultimate glory when we can’t see what He’s doing at all.
God’s Got This
When we want to rip out the page of the story that God is writing in our lives (and head straight for the shredder, then demand that He revise His work), this is where our faith can be bumped, kicked, crushed, and maybe even shattered.
But in the introduction of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, Nancy and Robert remind us:
Situations that seem confusing and chaotic to us are actually plot threads He is weaving together to create a story . . . a beautiful, compelling work of art. Incidents and events that make no sense at all now will one day make perfect sense—if not in this life, then in heaven—as we see the masterpiece He had in mind all along. (p. 20)
Confusing, chaotic, devastating, heartbreaking, infuriating, exhausting . . . you can pick your adjective. Whatever it is, God sees it all. He grieves with you. He’s carrying you. And none of the mess is too messy for Him to redeem.
Our heavenly Father looks at our circumstances, our concerns, and our anxious fears, and says, “Take heart, My child. I’ve got this.” (p. 30)
God’s got this.
When this plot twist feels like it’s too much for me to bear, God’s got this.
When this chapter of pain continues on and on, God’s got this.
When this paragraph makes me want to scream and I reach for the eraser, God’s got this.
He is writing my story. He’s writing yours. And though we hate to endure the hard chapters, we discover purpose in those seasons when we shift our perspective toward the Master Storyteller and when we anchor our faith in His Providence.
You can cry and wonder how in the world this storyline is going to play out, but while you lament, while you experience the shaking of your once rock-solid faith, you can declare hope in this: God is sovereign. God’s got this.
Faith is believing that God is who He says He is, even when we don’t see redemption or rescue on the horizon. We don’t have to wait for the bow to be tied or for the story to have a lovely ending in order to trust our Father.
We open our hands—letting Him have full control over those messy pages—and we say, “God, you’ve got this. It’s Yours to write.”
Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1–6)
One Sentence at a Time
If you’re struggling to grab onto faith in the midst of your own story, don’t give up. As Robert and Nancy remind us, your story matters, and “There is no plot twist in your story or ours of which He is unaware or that He can’t overcome” (p. 32).
So walk one day at a time, or—in keeping with this story theme—one sentence at a time. This sentence in your story really does matter, and we’ll never reach another chapter without faithfully abiding as God strings together sentence after sentence.
As we wrestle with our faith in the middle of the story, we’re in good company. We journey alongside Joseph and the Israelites and Job who saw messes of their own and witnessed the providential hand of God writing stories of redemption and rescue and restoration.