You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. Psalm 145:16–17

Discernment is essential in following Jesus. It’s distinguishing between reality and personal preference. Often, what I discern is not as appetising as what I’d like. So for me, following Jesus did not include experiencing personal emotional and psychological pain. Yet, on reflection, this yielded a richer experience of God’s presence and reality.

I’m not equating pain with spiritual growth. Yet, there are life events that, depending on how we address them, will either draw us closer to God or drive us from God. In fact, my discernment process does both initially; my longing for more of God remains real even as I’m confronted by pain. Here, I argue with God and may turn my back on him.

When young, my dad would hold out two clenched hands to me, inviting me to choose. One contained a sweet, the other was empty. Yet, sometimes he held a gift in both. I chose, and couldn’t guarantee what I’d get. However, having guessed wrong, dad still let me have a second bite of the cherry, and I secured my reward.

So it is with God. In turning my back I cannot see two extended arms each with a clenched hand concealing a surprise. However, once I’ve worked through my indignation, rage and fear and turn back to God, I have the opportunity to discover God’s way, even though my initial decision and course of action may offer little immediate reward.

I only discover my freedom in the provision that comes from God’s hand. Circumstances don’t change; my attitude and perspective do. What I initially experience as God’s unkindness is really a means to deepening my understanding of God and myself. So discerning, that is distinguishing the blessing in the pain, is a critical exercise we are all invited to experience.

Something to Consider: Does God appear unfair to you? If so, do you feel wounded?

An Action to Take: Revisit a painful episode and write down how and what it made you feel. Over time were there new opportunities that emerged?

A Prayer to Make: ‘Lord, at times I find You to be unfair. Help me to discern what You have in Your hand for my nourishment in such seasons.’

Photo by Les Anderson on Unsplash

Used with Permission

Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.