Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked?
I highlighted this verse years ago, and, for the life of me, I can’t tell you why. I came across it again as I was working through Ecclesiastes in my devotional time, and it stood out again, but not for some profound reason. Honestly, it just confused me. A lot. I thought it seemed backwards, because God was the one who made paths straight, not crooked. Isn’t that right? Isn’t that what Proverbs 3:5-6 show us? Yet it seemed to me that this verse was saying the exact opposite.
Later that day I was considering my life. This year has been the most difficult, trying year of my life thus far. I’m confused and broken in whole new ways. What I thought would have been a straight path turned out to be a crazy, winding road. What I thought was so simple turned out to be quite complicated. And now, I wish my life was easier in a way. I wish my path was straighter. But I’m realizing more and more that I can’t straighten it up. My life is all crooked, and I can’t fix it no matter how hard I may try to. And I’m learning that that’s ok.
In this confusion and pain, God is growing me. I’m being tested and tried, molded and shaped into who God wants me to be. I feel like I’m being tossed about in a storm, and it’s brutal, but the waves are dashing me against the Rock of Ages (I think Spurgeon came up with that analogy). My faith in God is growing as I’m being sanctified in ways I never could have imagined.
As I was driving along, mulling it over in my mind, this little verse came to mind, and it all seemed to make sense. This crooked path is driving me to the Lord in new ways. My faith in him is growing, my dependence on him is deepening, and my prayers to him are increasing. I admit that it’s painful growth. The lesson is difficult to stomach. The heat of the furnace seems unbearable at times, and my endurance seems to be ever fading. A straighter, easier path seems desirable. But a straighter path might not accomplish the work in me that this crooked path is accomplishing. A lessening of heat might leave some impurities. I’ve prayed for a closer walk with God, and these trials are the answers to those prayers. These forging blows are increasing my intimacy with my Lord. And he hasn’t failed me yet. He hasn’t forsaken me or destroyed me. The most painful trial has only ever deepened my relationship with him. And he is my ultimate desire. If suffering is the road by which I may know my Lord more deeply, then let me learn to welcome the flames. Let me learn to count it all joy when I reach the end of myself (James 1). For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12). Let me learn to praise God for the straight paths and the crooked ones as he walks with me in each.