It’s the American cultural way to believe that failure diminishes us. Within the Christian church, moral failure feels especially painful. Instead of finding acceptance and support to bolster our growing confident purpose, we often encounter judgment, rejection, and ostracization.
Jesus brought God’s love, grace, and mercy to us, where we find our confident purpose. He knew how desperately we need saving from our human natures. Jesus redeemed our failures, and he understood our weaknesses and pain. His forgiveness showed us how to change to become more like God’s original design.
How can we discover a confident purpose when life doesn’t make sense?
Let’s look at Psalm 23, where David, the Shepherd turned King, helps us understand our purpose even when life doesn’t make sense:
The LORD is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
The LORD is my shepherd.
Usually, when we see “Lord” in ALL CAPS, it refers to YHWH, the most revered name for God. It relates to who God is: I AM. This name helps us understand that God exists in himself and depends on no one.
Identifying with God provides security and hope because no one is more sure. He never changes. He’s always present with us no matter where we go. God’s faithfulness remains. Who else could we say these things about?
When you study shepherds (mentioned several hundred times in the Bible), you discover they are the only ones the sheep listen to. The shepherd’s voice calms the sheep, alerts them to danger, comforts them when injured, and calls them when they get distracted or separated from the flock. The sheep identify with their shepherd. And only that one.
How do sheep stay so focused? According to sheep101.info, they have excellent memories for faces. They remember their shepherd but also those who abuse them. Sheep know that their true shepherd protects them even to the point of giving his life. Therefore, they are secure with their shepherd.
Look at your relationship with God. If Jesus is your Good Shepherd, how does that impact your life today?
- What shepherd voice do you listen to?
- How does that voice impact you emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually?
- What results do you experience by listening to that voice?
I have all that I need.
What a statement! When life doesn’t make sense, how can you say you have everything you need?
A few weeks before this crisis in our marriage and life, a member of our church’s board of elders asked me,
“Have you ever been broken by God?”
I remember stumbling through something like, “Yes, I believe so.” However, I hadn’t. Yes, I’d struggled with disappointments, grief, and loss, but I’d never been broken as I was that day.
Matthew 5:3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” For years, I struggled with this verse. Jesus reminds us that without God, we have and are nothing. This poor-in-spirit idea reminds us that we have nothing to bring to God. We will never be “good enough, rich enough, spiritually mature enough” to be holy as God is holy. That’s why we need Jesus’ sacrifice. Ephesians 2:8,9 tells us that we are saved by faith in Christ, and there’s nothing we could ever do to earn salvation. Strong words, but they help us understand that our “poor in spirit” opens the door for God’s miraculous salvation.
Through the healing process in our marriage crisis, I discovered what it meant to have everything I needed. I needed God—his presence, comfort, words, and inner healing. That was the “all.”
During this time and throughout my life, God has provided financially, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Though I couldn’t fathom good coming out of this brokenness, God did it.
I wouldn’t wish what we went through on my worst enemy. But I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. God showed Dave and me his character in ways we’d never known. I learned what poor in spirit meant because God allowed all my spiritual crutches, ideals, and pride to be stripped away. During the deepest part of my depression, I remember telling God that I didn’t want to live if he wasn’t real and wouldn’t walk with me through this crisis. Words and assurances weren’t enough. I asked for tangible expressions and evidence of his presence and care. And he did it.
Journaling my questions and then capturing the evidence and answers God provided helped me recognize each met need.
- Have you ever been broken by God?
- What did you learn about him?
- What did you discover about yourself?
- How did this process help you define your purpose?
3. Tender Care.
He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength.
When life doesn’t make sense, anxiety and stress skyrocket. Many people experience sleeplessness, insomnia, depression, mental fog, irritability, excessive fear, and more. The pressures continue to build. If there is financial loss at this time, multiply these symptoms. Loss of reputation? Pressure boils over.
Jesus, your shepherd, and mine created us as holistic people–body, mind, and soul. We can’t neglect any area if we want to heal well, and he knows the best way to comfort and care for us.
As the bottom continued to fall out of my world during those initial days and weeks of the crisis, we received counseling and coaching to eliminate anything unnecessary. Systematically, I set aside, for the time being, anything except for daily needs and processing the crisis.
Do you need to rest in a peaceful place?
Ask God to provide this need and when he does, take it. The green meadows are there, but if we continue to run frantically from one place to another because we’re afraid, we might miss it.
My peaceful place was a comfortable chair in my living room. No radio, TV, or conversation. Just an afghan, my Bible, a cup of tea, and complete quiet. Sometimes I didn’t understand what I read, but I’d talk out loud to God about it anyway. There were days when I couldn’t read the Bible, but God spoke to me when I listened to worship music. Often, I fell asleep as the sun streamed through the window. Not being a regular napper, guilt tried to rob me of this restorative time. But my body needed extra sleep, and I followed the advice to nap as needed.
I learned to eat food that nourished my soul and drink more water than I had. Because I enjoy baths, I took an evening bath with Epsom salts on a more difficult day. I spent time outside in the sunshine, even walking in green spaces, and these became my green meadows and quiet streams.
Each intentional action to care for my whole person allowed me to utilize the strength God provided to live with confident purpose. In the quiet, peaceful times, I could hear God’s voice. God reminded me that he doesn’t create chaos but order. He doesn’t shout but speaks in quietness. When the pain and shame overwhelmed me, and I tried to avoid the pain through activity and busyness, I’d hear God say, “Be still and know that I am God.” Strength comes when we slow down and allow God to care for our whole person.
- When was the last time you heard God’s voice?
- How often do you practice sitting in the meadow and appreciating the beauty?
- How does God speak to you?
- Are you feeling weak? Allow God to strengthen you according to your bent.
My restoration story isn’t unique because I’m like you—a flawed human trying to understand my purpose and God.
As I spend more time with God, I learn that he turns failure into confident purpose for his honor.
We find new strength when we praise him in the failure and struggle. The more I listen to his shepherd voice, the more joy and peace I experience.
Please reach out if you need to process what doesn’t make sense and find your confident purpose. I promise to listen to your heart without judgment and provide a safe place.