I love to journal. I am passionate about all kinds of writing and keeping a journal is just one of the ways I do that. Every time I fill up one journal, I go through my collection of journals, and pick my next one based on what season of life I am going through.
This season’s journal was decorated with loaves and fishes. I wanted it to remind me of God’s provision. The reason was, before all the cancellations and quarantines of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was supposed to go on a mission trip. It was going to be my first mission trip and I was excited and a little nervous to see how God was going to use me.
We had trainings leading up to the mission trip where we learned worship songs in Spanish, we got into small groups for planning, and I was preparing to share my testimony — in Spanish! — while we were there. This trip was supposed to change my life.
During every training, my youth leader talked to us about trusting God. He talked about how many Christians are afraid that God can’t use us. We’re afraid that we’re too shy, or that we’ve messed up too many times, and that makes it so God can’t use us. He told us to turn away from those fears and look to God and say, “God, I know I am broken, I am not perfect, but I know that through Your power, You can use someone as broken as me. You can use me.”
I prayed those words and they felt freeing. I was free from worrying about perfection; I could let God use me how I was. I couldn’t wait to go on the mission trip and see how God was going to use me.
But as I’m sure you guessed, the trip was postponed indefinitely.
I was so confused for a long time. God was going to use me to do good things, so why did He let this happen? I thought I was doing what God wanted, so why were all these crazy things going on?
I spent a lot of time writing in my prayer journal about this, and after a while I realized something.
When I had told God to use me, I was only thinking about the big thing I thought I was doing for Him: the mission trip. I was only trusting Him in that specific scenario. I wasn’t thinking that God might want to use me for other things. I hadn’t thought about the other aspects of my life to trust God in, like school, or friendships, or even my writing.
Now that my school is closed down, I can’t see my friends in person, and everything is unpredictable. I am beginning to learn that I need to trust God with everything. I need to trust His plan and I need to trust that God can use me in my normal life, whether I’m stuck at home, or in another country.
So here is my encouragement to you in this time:
1. Bring God your disappointments
Let’s be honest, all these cancellations and missed opportunities are disappointing! A cancelled season, a cancelled vacation, a cancelled performance, the list could go on and on. For a long time, I was just in shock. I sat there wondering, “What now, God?”
Then I started praying about what was going on. I confessed that I was confused about this whole situation, but I always tried to end my prayers by saying that I knew God was in control. Saying that out loud was what led me to slowly realize how God could use a situation like this for good.
2. Learn to trust
Trusting God is a lifelong journey, not just a step two! We have to start by practicing trust every day to build up a life of trust. It’s not easy, because we want to be in control and predict our situations, but we know that God is good, and He has a plan for us. Here are some of my favorite Bible passages about trust.
3. Let God use you where you are
Where are you? Well, if you are abiding by the rules, you’re probably at home right now. But here are some ideas of good things you can do during this time.
- Stay in touch with others with text, call, facetime, etc.
- Offer to bring others groceries
- Pray for other people
- Start a Bible study plan (I’m doing some on YouVersion with friends right now!)
- Encourage one another
Learn to trust God with your normal, everyday life. Trust Him with the normal stuff. If we think God only cares about the “big things,” like I mistakenly did, we won’t believe God can use us for good and we won’t let Him.
What do you think? Do you think God can use you, even in times like this? Do you have any more ideas to add to my list above?