Last night I watched the movie “Soul”. Ever since it came out, I have heard about how great of a message it has to communicate to those watching it. I won’t spoil anything in case you haven’t watched it but let me tell you… it has such an important message for all of us to hear. One of the main things that struck me was the overarching storyline of one of the main characters named 22. You see, 22 struggles to find a purpose in life. She feels as if she doesn’t have a purpose. She’s confused on what she’s supposed to do, and all throughout the movie, it makes her feel worthless. And honestly, sometimes (maybe even a little more than sometimes) we feel the same exact way. That’s why this movie is SO good. It’s very relatable to our feelings throughout our journey of life. When approaching our future, we don’t know what to do. When facing a tough situation, we don’t know what to do. When approaching God, sometimes we don’t know what to do or what to say. Let’s admit it, there are times when we just don’t know what to do.
So what do we do when we don’t know what to do? Lately, we’ve been leading a small group study with some of our youth students that reflects on this question. As we discussed this topic, I realized that I was learning so many things that I wanted to begin implementing into my life. Lately, there have been many aspects of my life that have had me questioning what to do. I have found myself questioning my abilities which, ultimately, have me questioning God’s purpose for my life. I also have been facing everyday hardships that find me wondering what to do. Life is often full of many questions, and I think this question of what to do in difficult situations is one we face daily. We’re always expected to make decisions. We have pressure to do the right thing. We’re expected to care for ourselves. We want to be there for others. We have so many things to take into account constantly, and it can be taxing. It is difficult to decide what to do when we don’t know what to do.
Although it’s difficult, we cannot just run away from tough situations or hard questions. That isn’t how life works… which means we have to have an action plan.
First of all, life’s weight becomes a little bit lighter when we communicate with God. An important idea to always remember with this is that everyone most effectively communicates with God in their own ways. Some people may communicate with God best by sitting and reading Scripture. Some people may connect by putting in their earbuds and listening to worship music. Some people may connect best by simply sitting in silence and waiting for God to speak to them. We need to find the way or multiple ways that we can best feel God’s presence. Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe we should be communicating in all of these ways. But if you see a person really connecting with God in one way, and you don’t necessarily connect in that way, it’s okay. The beautiful part of creation is that we are all different. We are all made to connect in different ways. However, for all of us, when we don’t know what to do, our first step should always be to communicate with God. God doesn’t intend for us to figure everything out on our own. As humans, we are made to be dependent on God. If we leave God’s answer out of the picture when trying to figure out what we are supposed to do, we could end up lost and unsure of where we went wrong.
One more thing about communicating with God – quit trying to communicate in the most perfect way. What I mean by this is that we often come up with these elaborate prayers that we think may make us seem more “holy.” We sugar coat the things we are facing when talking to God because we are afraid to bring our raw, authentic selves. Communication with God is simply a conversation. A good relationship is not fulfilled by hiding the bad parts of ourselves. A good relationship comes about when we bring the good and bad and accept one another as we are. I promise that God loves and accepts you as you are. When we don’t know what to do, we need to bring the hard things and simply talk to God. In those moments, we truly allow our hearts to be open to what God has for us.
Secondly, when we don’t know what to do, we need to pursue peace. Now, I actually can’t take credit for this one. This was in our small group curriculum for this series, but I believe it is SO GOOD. Many of our conflicts come from tough situations or relationships that leave us wondering what we are supposed to do. But our ultimate goal should always be to pursue peace in those places. Pursuing peace can look different depending on the situation.
- Sometimes pursuing peace is simply finding ways to have grace for ourselves. We sometimes can be quick to forgive others but not quick to forgive ourselves. This will not lead to a sense of peace within our hearts. In fact, this will only lead to turmoil within ourselves. It’ll make it much harder for us to face the situations and conflicts that we are facing in that moment.
- Sometimes pursuing peace is forgiving others. This is one of those things that is way easier said than done. It is hard to let go of a grudge when you are hurt. I have seen so many people within my lifetime that have had trouble offering someone forgiveness because of the awful things a person has done to them. However, my advice to them would be to talk to God about their struggle to forgive. Pray for the person who wronged you. In saying that, you don’t necessarily have to let them back into your life. You can care, love and forgive at a distance. In order to best care for ourselves, sometimes this is the wise thing to do.
- Often times, pursuing peace means finding ways to enjoy the situation we are in, despite the hardships. School can be hard. Work can be hard. Many things in life can be hard. But when we pursue peace, we can find peace within the chaos. Don’t let the stress, worry, or thoughts that we aren’t good enough take control. We will most likely all experience these feelings within our lives, but in pursuing peace, we choose to restrict these feelings from completely dominating. We allow ourselves to rest on the promise from God that worrying will not make anything better and that we are truly made in the image of God. It doesn’t mean the chaos will subside. But it does mean that we may be able to start seeing life as beautiful as it is, even in the midst of chaos.
Jesus is the perfect example of living out what we should do when we don’t know what to do. Jesus was always in communication with God and was always finding creative ways in which he could pursue peace. The high priests in Jesus’ time constantly put Jesus difficult situations. They’d find ways to try to manipulate Him into saying the wrong things and were determined that His ministry would not succeed. They wanted to stop Jesus in his tracks and prove that He wasn’t really the Son of God. While this would have been very frustrating for Jesus, He was always in tune with God and always able to forgive those who wronged Him. He was pursuing peace in the chaos. If we ever have a hard time figuring out how we should face a situation, Jesus is someone we can always read about to find the answer. Even though we aren’t always going to handle things perfectly as Jesus did, we can strive to live our lives by the example of Christ.
There are going to be many times in your life where you don’t know what to do. However, when you are faced with this kind of situation and pondering the question of what to do, I hope that you open the door to communicate with God and choose the pursuit of peace. God is always standing right in front of you with an outstretched hand just waiting for you to take it. God already knows your heart but still wants you to communicate anyways, so that God may lead you to be the person you’re called to be.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. – Hebrews 4:14-16