I couldn’t believe my eyes. There, right in front of my eyes: an “F.” I, who had always prided myself in being a good student. I, who had worked hard to do this assignment right. And now, a sickening weight enveloped me as I realized I had read the deadline wrong.
It seemed like there were already enough difficult things in my life. I felt like crying. Like quitting my online college class altogether. Like giving up altogether on the hamster wheel of A’s. I was just sick of it.
I’ll admit it, that was my first thought. But I knew I couldn’t stay there. God had been gently prying at my heart, reminding me of His ability and goodness. I remembered the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego facing what happened to be a much bigger deal than an F on an assignment. But what was their response? “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us … but if not.”
He is able … but even if He does not. Throughout each day, each week, each year, God is working to bring us to a place of full surrender. And I’m not talking about what happens at an emotionally-charged retreat when it’s just you and God. I’m talking about in the middle of what seems like an impossible relationship with a sibling. I’m talking about that heart-rending move away from the friends you’ve always known. And I’m talking about those days when you’re just sure you can’t go on unless God brings you a husband … quick!
In the middle of the chaos, we can rest in the fact that God is able, and even more, that He is good. Yes, He’s able to mend our relationship, heal our sickness, or bring us a husband. But He can do much more. Amaziah, king of Judah, had hired 100,000 men from Israel to battle the Syrians. Until a man of God announced that Israel had gone apostate and God wasn’t going to give Judah the victory if they continued this alliance. Amaziah had to agree. But he had to ask, How would he get the hundred talents back he had hired the men with? It’s a key question, one that we often ask. If I surrender my life to the Lord and He asks me to give up marriage or health or friends, will I be the loser in the deal? Don’t miss the prophet’s answer: “The LORD is able to give thee much more than this.”
Much more! Yes, He asks us to surrender our desires. But He restores a hundredfold everything He takes away. The Bible is sprinkled with the promise that God is able:
- “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost.”
- “(He) will transform our lowly body that it may conform to his glorious body, according to the working by which he is able.” 
- “(He) is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.”
And not only is God able, He is good. When He says “no,” it’s because He wants to give us something better – way better. What if He waits to heal our health problem and instead pours out His abundant Presence in a way we would never have otherwise known? What if He keeps that difficult relationship in our lives, only to draw us closer to the His unfailing arms? What if he delays marriage, or never gives it at all, but instead gives us greater intimacy with Christ, our Beloved? What He never gives us children, but instead uses us to have an eternal impact on the countless souls of our siblings, neighbors, and little ones at church?
Can we still praise Him? If that difficult relationship with our sibling doesn’t improve at all this week, can we still be happy? If God doesn’t bring a spouse this year, can I still sing while I do my family’s dishes? Can I still pursue the many learning opportunities God has given me (even online college classes!) with enthusiasm?
As I stared at my computer screen, the words of Habakkuk came to mind: “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”
At that moment, it seemed like everything in my life was going wrong. But Lord, I know you’re able to fix this situation. But even if You do not … even if I flunk my course, even if my health doesn’t improve, even if God doesn’t bring me a husband this year … yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
Yes, there are hard times. But we can rest that God is working in us the words of Samuel Rutherford, “Christ’s love is so kingly, that it will not wait until tomorrow, it must have a throne all alone in your soul. It is folly to divide our narrow and little love. … Lay your soul and your weights upon God; make him your only and best-beloved.”
Will you rejoice in Jesus today?
 Daniel 3:17
 2 Chronicles 25:9
 Hebrews 7:25
 Philippians 3:21
 Jude 24
 Habakkuk 3:17 – 18
 Samuel Rutherford, quoted in Voices of the Past, ed. Richard Rushing (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009), 264.