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"What am I supposed to do?"

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(5/1) That was the question of a wife that was watching her husband live out his last days of this life with colon cancer. I asked her if she was referring to when her husband would be gone and she said, "No! What am I supposed to do now?" A few weeks later, a husband watching his wife die of a tumor on her brain asked me the very same question, "What am I supposed to do?"

As a pastor I have read a lot of books and articles about what God may be doing in allowing or even bringing adversity into our lives. Whether God brings it directly or allows it, we are reminded that life will have its share of hard times. Passages like Matt. 18:7; Luke 17:1; and John 16:33 remind us that Christians are not exempt. Romans 8:28 and other scriptures remind us that God is active in our affairs and has a good purpose for what we go through or experience. In fact, in my studies, I have discovered about 20 different things that God may be doing by allowing our hard times. I have read little, however, about what we are supposed to do in those hard times. So, I began to seek an answer. What am I supposed to do, when I donít know what to do; when life doesnít make sense? I would like to suggest to you that there are at least 12 things we need to do when we donít know what to do. Letís study them together.

  • 1. Pour Your Heart Out to God Ė Itís okay to do that. He wants us to do that. Peter tells us to, "Cast all our care on Him, for He cares for you," (1 Peter 5:7). Yell, scream, cry, tell Him how bad it hurts, how confused you are, how angry you are, how lonely you feel, everything. I promise you there will be no lightning bolts. Jesus cried from the cross, "My God, My God whyÖ.?" Jeremiah, David, Elijah, and others poured their hearts and complaints out to God. To cast all your care, means, all your care. It means to dump it all on His lap. He wants you to do that. Do you know why? Because He cares, just like you care for your children. Thatís why Jesus says, "Come to me, all of you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest (Matt. 11:28-30; cp. Psalm 13). Pour it all on Him.
  • Be Still and Wait Ė Psalm 46:10 reminds us to "Be Still and Know that He is God." When you donít know what to do, stop trying to do something and wrap yourself up in God like you would a blanket. That is what David tries to tell us in Psalm 27:14 and Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 40:31. Waiting is not inactivity; rather, it is the activity of entwining oneself with God, like taking many thin strands of string and twisting them into a rope. Use this difficult time to get to know God deeper, fuller, more intimately. This is a time to read the scriptures, especially the Psalms or the Gospel of John. This will help to re-adjust my focus from my own pain to what God may be doing in pain.
  • Recognize His Sovereignty and Worship Him Ė This is what Job did when He lost everything (Job 1:20), and David did when He lost a child (2 Sam. 12:20), they worshiped. Adversity has a way of reminding us that this is His world and not ours. We are merely stewards of His possession. We ourselves are His creation and therefore belong to Him. Isaiah and Jeremiah remind us that He is the Potter and we are the Clay. To worship is simply to bow the knee and acknowledge that we are His and He can do or allow as He chooses.
  • Remember He has a Plan - Even if I donít understand Ė One thing I want every Christian to realize is that God has a plan for the world and a plan for your life. God is preparing the world for the time when Jesus is going to return. Matthew 24-25, the Revelation and many others remind us of that. His plan for you is that you grow to be like Jesus in your character and conduct. Thatís exactly what Paul reminds us of in Romans 8:28-29. Everything He allows or brings into our lives is trimming away our old nature and to bring out His nature in us. And like a tapestry, the threads of our lives are connected to others so that what is happening in our lives may be so that other lives can be blessed and changed as well.
  • Believe His Promises Ė Adversity is a time to be still and to remember His promises. Promises are what give us comfort, courage, and strength in our pain. Promises, like the one just mentioned, that He is working everything together for a good purpose (Rom. 8:28-29); that He is with us and in us, and He will never, ever, under any circumstances leave us (Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:20); that He loves us and will never love us more or less than He does at this moment and absolutely nothing can change that (Rom. 8:35-39); and there are so any more that give us comfort.
  • Walk By Faith not By Sight Ė This is what God told Habakkuk to do when He didnít know what to do (Hab. 2:4) and He repeats that 3 times in the New Testament (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:28). To walk by faith means to obey God because you trust Him regardless of the circumstances or consequences. To walk by faith means that when you donít know what to do, you do what you know to do; that is, keep on loving God with all your heart, and keep on loving people as Jesus loved you (Matt. 22:37-39). I will trust God even when I walk through dark and scary places, because He has led me and His way is always the right path. Isnít that exactly what Psalm 23:3-4 tells us? When you donít know what to do keep obeying God because you trust Him. The one who made the Red Sea open, and the Walls of Jericho come down will lead you right.
  • Give Up Your Will For His Will Ė This is a tough one and while it is similar to 3 and 4 above, I mention it separately because it is the conscious decision to entrust yourself and your circumstances to Godís sovereign plan just as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane. He prayed that if there were just some other way of redeeming man, please do it, "never the less, not as I will, but as you will," (Matt.26:39-42). We will be tempted to respond our own way and that often makes things worse. Does He not tell us to pray that every time we pray, "Thy will be doneÖ." (Matt. 6:10)? Being a Christ-follower involves this type of allegiance, for Jesus said, that to follow Him, one must, "Deny Himself, Take Up His Cross and Follow Me" (Matt. 16:24).
  • Focus on The Finish Line Ė This world is not our home, we are just passing through. All the pain and heartache that we experience is temporary. God has something better and permanent waiting for His children. It is the place that Jesus has prepared (John 14:1-3), and reserved for us (1 Pet. 1:4). It is a place of no more sorrow, or pain (Rev. 21:3-7). It is a place of peace, pleasure, and joy (Ps. 16:11). When Paul went through so much pain, it was his focus on the finish line that kept him going (2 Cor. 4:14ff; Phil. 1:21). It was Davidís hope (Ps. 23:6). Even Jesus, our Lord, endured the pain of the cross because He focused on the finish line (Heb. 12:2). This is our hope. Real hope is not wishful thinking; rather, it is confidence in the guaranteed promises of God.
  • The remaining 4 things I will only briefly mention at this time. Resist the devil. Satan will do everything possible to tempt you to turn away from God and seek your own way or the worldís way of responding. Donít give in. Stay Connected to Godís People. Donít become a recluse. When we donít know what to do we may want to drop out, but it is now that we need the Body of Christ-His Church. We need the encouragement and comfort of others (2 Cor. 1:11; Heb. 10:24-25). Forgive. If your adversity is caused by others, you need to follow Jesus and forgive (Eph. 4:29-32). Finally, Remember That You are not Alone. There are others who are also experiencing what you are going through, or have come through it, and God is with you. The One, who experienced the rebellion of His children and the death of a Son, has promised to never leave you - you are not alone!

Having trouble knowing what to do? Give me a call at 301-447-6565 or email me at Better yet, stop by and see us on Sunday at 10:00 at the Emmitsburg Elementary School. We are currently in an 8 week study of Forgiveness. Until then, Walk in Faith and May the Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman