Previously, we discussed finding a confident purpose when life doesn’t make sense. If you haven’t read the first two parts of this series, click the links below:
How do you discover a confident purpose when life doesn’t make sense?
Let’s look once more 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
He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.
It wasn’t easy to find purpose in the chaos. For many months, life made no sense. Like you, in this stress, I felt confused and lost. What was the next step? Where should I turn for help? Did I need help? What was my responsibility?
In this pain and confusion, I discovered how broken I was.
I reached the end of myself. At that moment, I sensed Jesus ready to carry me to the next step. When I finally released control, peace flooded my mind and heart. The crisis remained, but the fear retreated as I opened my hands and allowed God to bring healing in his way and time.
God promised his presence along the path, but it wouldn’t be to prove me right or protect my reputation or Dave’s. My healing and forward progress taught me more about God, his character, and who I am. Now I get to tell the story of God’s greatness, grace, mercy, and overwhelming love. He directed each step, and I learned to praise him with each one.
Did you know that shepherds use a leg brake on a lamb who tends to stray too far? Think about the brakes on your car–they slow you down. The purpose of the leg brake is to make it harder for the lamb to move quickly away before the shepherd notices.
This concept beautifully illustrates the idea of healthy life bumpers (boundaries). God established laws and regulations for us, not to punish us but to help us avoid the dangers along the path. These brakes slow us down from self-destruction and allow us to hear our shepherd’s voice if we listen.
Throughout this journey, God showed me his faithfulness. He challenged my long-held beliefs that didn’t match with who the Bible says God is.
He invited me to linger with him through journaling. My cries, questions, and arguments eventually turned to praise and thanksgiving, not for the pain but for his mercy, love, and grace to me.
Also, through the Holy Spirit’s direction, God encouraged me to wrestle with concepts I read in the Bible that didn’t make sense. He showed me that questioning him wasn’t wrong, but like Job, I needed to understand his character, holiness, and otherness. I discovered there are questions I won’t get answers to this side of heaven. Not because God was mean but because the answer mattered less than spending time with him and learning how deeply he loves me. Could I accept that? Would I choose to stand in confidence in God instead of myself?
- What direction do you believe God wants to give you?
- What if God is more concerned with journeying with you than meeting your whims?
- What questions are you afraid to ask God?
- If God has a purpose in this current struggle, how will you respond?
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.
These days, many American Christians believe the lie that walking with God guarantees a pain-free, struggle-free existence.
Mary DeMuth said,
“It’s an American idea that if God is in a thing, it will naturally prosper.
We can’t forget that it’s the trials of life that grow us, not all our wishes and desires granted.
In God’s upside-down economy, even failure serves us.”
I believed this lie as well. But facing the destruction and dissolution of my marriage, suicidal depression, and PTSD, I fell into a spiritual crisis. As God and I wrestled through the lies I’d believed for more than four decades, he brought others to my life to teach me listening and healing prayer. Through those beautiful sessions, I saw God’s hand in each situation we tackled. Where shame had attached itself with a stranglehold, the Holy Spirit cut away and cauterized the wound. Then, like a good shepherd with a wounded sheep, he showed me verses from the Bible that brought truth to combat the shame.
Psalm 23 encourages us that God remains next to us when we walk through hard times and complex, dark places. The verse says, “close beside me.” David says we don’t need to fear.
Think about something in your life today that has you looking around the path for wolves, snakes, tree limbs, thorny bushes, and more struggles. What’s going on in your heart? What thoughts? How’s your breathing?
During the initial days of recovery, every muscle felt tense; I slept poorly, if at all, clenched my teeth until my jaw ached, and shallowly breathed. All signs that fear and anxiety held me in their tormenting grip.
Try this coaching exercise:
Close your eyes for just a moment.
Take a deep breath in; now, breathe out slowly. What’s going on in your body?
Repeat this breathing exercise, but as you breathe in, start with YH and breathe out WH. I recently learned that the Jewish sages associated the name with breath. Isn’t that just like God to give us a moment-by-moment reminder about his presence and greatness? We must breathe to remain alive. With each breath, we say, as David wrote in Psalm 34:1, “I bless God every chance I get; my lungs expand with his praise.”
You can use this quick exercise every time you sense your body tensing, your heart racing, and your palms sweating. Breathe in YAH and exhale WEH.
Even in the most challenging times, our breath reminds us of God’s nearness and protection. Romans 8 tells us nothing can separate us from God. Satan wants us to believe the tough times mean God left us alone. Your heavenly Father (Abba) is as close as your nearest breath.
- How do you feel when your world gets shaken? When life doesn’t go as planned?
- What do you do when you’ve wandered away from a healthy, life-giving path?
- What lie do you believe about failure and God’s protection?
As I sat in shock and pain, I sensed God coming close.
Remember Matthew 5:3? In my broken spirit, I threw myself headlong onto God’s promises. The only thing I could hold to was God.
While my mind spun with crazy thoughts, my soul reached toward God. I believe the Holy Spirit spoke memorized verses to my mind while he interceded for me with words I couldn’t express (see Romans 8).
God gently eased me with his shepherd hook from the tangled vines that trapped me. He reminded me that my:
are all with him.
Which of these truths related to your confident purpose from Psalm 23 do you need to grasp?
My story isn’t unique because, like you, I’m a flawed human trying to understand my purpose and God. As I spend more time with God, I learn that he turns failure into a 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 purpose. I promise to listen to your heart without judgment and provide a safe place.