When I was a senior in high school, I did a lot of searching for the perfect college. In the back of my mind, I had a checklist of the things I wanted in my perfect school: school size— medium; cost—under $20,000; location—no more than six hours from home. Using several handy websites (such as The College Board), I narrowed my search based on these and more criteria.
Here’s the catch, though: when I entered all of my criteria and pressed “search,” there were no results. There was no perfect school.
Now imagine for a second that before you started your life, God sat you down with a checklist, on which were all the possibilities you could possibly imagine for your life, and He said, “I’ll give you whatever you want.” Everything from eye color to family size to the year you were born to the schools you attended—you got to choose. My guess is that your life would be much different than it is now.
Is there one thing in particular, something you would change in an instant if you could? Is it your physical appearance, your health, your family situation? Perhaps you wish you were smarter, more athletic, or more outgoing, or maybe you have walked through a time of hurt that has devastated you and crippled your ability to trust. You believe that this one thing would have kept you from a lot of trouble and heartache, would have given you the friends you always wanted, or would have brought about the life that you dreamed of having when you were younger. What is it that you would change?
We all have different answers to this question, but we can all relate. I know the things that I have often wished were different, and I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have asked God, “why?”
The reality is that before my life began, God himself completed the checklist for my life—without my help. He handpicked the appearance, personality, and people that would shape me. He knew how my life would be affected by each of the factors on that checklist: physical appearance, family, personality, friends, and so many others. He knew what would cause me to struggle. He even knew I would question His goodness for giving me a life that I would not have given myself.
But here’s an interesting thought: what if God’s idea of a so-called “perfect life” is better than mine? If He had given me the life I would have chosen for myself, I know that I would not love Him or acknowledge Him as Lord. I follow Him because I was first driven to my knees by my weaknesses and by hard times.
He, in His mercy, gave me a life that would bring me to Him. Just as He loved us so much that He would allow His Son to die to free us from death, so perhaps this love caused Him to allow hardship and difficulty so that we would run to Him and choose to call Him “Father.” He knew that He was what we needed and longed for, so when He created us, He checked off the things on that checklist that would bring us to Him.
So I challenge you—thank God today. Thank Him for His love. Thank Him for that one thing you have never thanked Him for, that very thing that has caused you trouble and heartache. We may not understand—we may never understand—why God allowed those things in our lives. But perhaps just one reason is that it brought you to Him.
Let that be enough.
Natalie Macek – Column: Maintaining a Positive Self-Image
Natalie Macek is a twenty-year-old college student. She studies Middle Childhood Education at Cedarville University in Ohio, with the goal of becoming a middle school English or Math teacher. Currently, she works as the editor for Polished, an e-magazine for Christian teen girls and their moms. Natalie is passionate about her faith in God and about reminding girls of their identity and value in Him, especially as they navigate the struggles of middle and high school.