Sanctification by Faith


What is God doing in my life? And why?

I’ve felt a bit stuck for a while now. As friends share what God seems to be doing in their lives, pointing to answered prayers, fulfilled desires, and exciting opportunities, I feel like my life is currently defined by what God isn’t doing. He’s closed doors, removed peace from pursuits, and has kept me in the same place for longer than is comfortable. I’m not sure what God’s doing in my life in this season, and I can’t say with certainty where he’s leading me. Even my general hopes about the future seem fragile.

In part, this is a by-product of comparison, the unwise weighing of one’s life with that of another. Jesus spoke to that tendency, reminding me that how he chooses to work in the lives of others shouldn’t be a contributing factor to my obedience (John 21:22). Comparison, while easily undertaken during times of trial, is largely distracting and discouraging in your walk with the Lord. You rarely see yourself or others clearly in such instances.

As I consider my felt ignorance of God’s work this season, however, I’m beginning to think that God’s hand may not clearly be traceable in all instances. In other words, I think walking by faith means sanctification may be taking place in spite of what we can see or feel.

In a discussion of trials, Paul writes,

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Affliction, perplexity, persecution, and being stricken down only serve to show God’s power at work in us; life shines even through death (2 Corinthians 4:7-12). Paul encourages his readers with these reminders, calling their attention past the temporal to the eternal, past the momentary situation to the eternal reality they are partakers in through Christ. Paul knows, however, that circumstances can lead Christians to doubt, so he urges believers to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Sovereignty holds even through the fiercest earthly trials.

At times, experience may seem at odds with expectation. God may allow what we pray he’d remove, and he may remove what we pray he’d allow. He may increase endurance and grow character and hope through suffering (Romans 5:3-5). He may call us to “count it all joy . . . when you meet trials of various kinds,” trials that may not make sense to us in the moment (James 1:2-4). And though he promises wisdom to those who seek him (James 1:5-8), he does not promise answers to our questions or explanations of how he’s using the trials we face. None can know his mind. But we can trust that he is good, that he is working all things for good (Romans 8:28), and that he will provide what we need as we seek him (Matthew 6:33). His will is for our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3), and we may trust he is accomplishing his will in us even if we can’t trace the growth. So we may rest in hope, hope rooted not in our understanding but in his.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the pace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7

Photo by Ken Treloar on Unsplash


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