Trouble in Obedience

Trouble in Obedience

Have you ever followed instructions – doing exactly what you were told to do – and failed miserably or had the whole thing blow up in your face? Or maybe you went out of your way to help someone else, having the purest motives, only for them to end up in a worse situation than they were before you were so helpful?

Or maybe you have stepped out in faithful obedience to God’s call on your life to write for His glory, but things are not working out the way you expected or even hoped. Perhaps you’ve encountered the cancel culture in your use of social media or you’ve received negative book reviews simply because your book is written from a biblical worldview.

You’re not alone.

Consider these biblical examples:

Moses and Aaron

Moses and Aaron did exactly what God told them to do, but it didn’t work out like they expected, either. Exodus 5 tells us they went to confront Pharaoh with God’s demand to “Let My people go.” But Pharaoh did not know the one, true God. And Pharaoh’s answer was short, though not sweet: “No.” Then the ruler of Egypt shook his fist at the God of Israel by requiring the Israelites to work even harder under greater oppression.

The unhappy result? Increased oppression for the Hebrews. Sometimes obeying God leads to suffering. But Moses and Aaron persevered.

What about you and me? When others reject us or our faith, how do we respond? Instead of wallowing in self-pity, continue writing—and speaking—the truth in love, trusting God to open minds and soften stubborn hearts.

Disciples in a boat

After Jesus miraculously fed at least 5,000 people, He immediately sent the disciples onto the Sea of Galilee in a boat (Matthew 14:22). But this is another example of events not turning out as expected. A violent storm arose, waves battered the boat, and the disciples feared for their lives. All because they were exactly where Jesus told them to be.

What about you and me? Do we conclude that trouble is a sign we’re outside of God’s will? Or do we see difficulties as a test of faith? Or perhaps the trouble occurred because the enemy doesn’t like the work we’re doing for God’s Kingdom. Either way, difficulties might well be a sign that we’re doing exactly what God has called us to do!

One more example . . .

The apostle Paul received wise counsel from Christian elders in the Jerusalem church. They counseled him to fulfill a purification ritual at the Temple, along with four other men (Acts 21:23-24). Paul followed their advice, but quickly became the target of a riot. The result? Paul became a prisoner, ultimately bound for Rome.

Paul could have become bitter, blaming the mess he was in on poor advice he received. But God took what the mob meant for evil and used it for good. The journey to Rome enabled Paul to share the gospel with soldiers and kings, Jews, Romans, and even residents of the island of Malta.

What about you and me? Do we default to blaming others for our troubles? Maybe we want to blame our critique partners for changes we made to our manuscript. Or perhaps we’re angry because a conference director did not give us the editor or agent appointment we requested. Did we forget that God is sovereign?

The conclusion is clear. Don’t assume trouble means we’re out of God’s will! Being in God’s will doesn’t guarantee life will be easy. When things don’t turn out the way we expect, this doesn’t mean that’s how they’ll end. Just as you are writing stories, God is writing your story . . . and it’s not over yet!

When has life become difficult for you because you obeyed God?

10 thoughts on “Trouble in Obedience

  1. Amen! Trouble happens… it’s the world. It doesn’t mean God isn’t there or doesn’t love you. God is always at work, using the bad thing to make good.

  2. A well-learned lesson, “Don’t assume trouble means we’re out of God’s will! Being in God’s will doesn’t guarantee life will be easy.” All your examples are great and we also consider Jesus who stayed smack dab in the center of God’s will and the road He traveled was one of suffering.

  3. I needed this post today, Ava. After working diligently at a task and giving all of my love and attention to that long-term project, it’s hurtful and discouraging to have backlash that has no merit. These are helpful: responses that give helpful ideas or kindly stated issues noted that need to be discussed, so that we can quickly respond and pray for good communication. When all goes flat, however, and seems to be going backwards, we do not understand. Nor are we given an explanation. So we will wait and see what God will do as we pray. Thank you for the encouraging words and for this post that cries out this reminder.

What Do You Think?