FOCUS QUESTION: Why is no circumstance is ever wasted?
I just recently read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller and it is SO GOOD. I HIGHLY recommend it! Like, for real. You GOTTA read it. Okay? *knucks*
DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission.
After writing a memoir, Blue Like Jazz, two movie producers approached Donald Miller. They wanted to make his memoir into a movie and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is Don’s account of that journey.
Throughout the entire book, Don talks about storytelling and what it means to not only TELL a good story, but what it means to LIVE a good story, and the elements that make up a good story. These elements include: a main character, both negative and positive turns, tragedy, conflict, persistence, and memorable scenes.
To put it simply, it’s a story about story.
There’s one chapter in particular I’d like to focus on. In Chapter 28, Miller talks about heartbreak, pain, and Job.
Are you familiar with Job’s story?
Scripture describes Job as a man who was “blameless and upright, [who] feared God and shunned evil, [and] was the greatest man among all the people of the East. [Job] had seven sons and three daughters…and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants” (Job 1:1-3).
One day, Satan questioned Job’s commitment to God and accused Job of only worshipping God because of everything God had given him. He didn’t think Job would continue to worship God if he were to be stripped of his blessings (Job 1:9-11).
To make a long story short, Job lost everything — his children, his livestock, his servants, and even his health — and, as a result, Job began to question God. He didn’t understand why God was allowing all of these horrible things to happen.
God never answers Job.
Instead, He simply reminds Job of His sovereignty…and that’s that.
Job could have easily turned from God, but he didn’t. Instead, he remained a faithful servant because, according to Miller, “[Job] understood the story was not about him, and he cared more about the story than he did about himself.”
*insert heart palpitations here because that is a hard pill to swallow*
I seriously lost my breath when I read that sentence. Then, again, as I continued reading.
By the end of the chapter, Miller has concluded, “I was a tree in a story about a forest and it was arrogant of me to believe any differently…the forest is better than the story of the tree…I sat by the fire until the sun came up and asked God to help me understand the story of the forest and what it meant to be a tree in that story.”
After highlighting what Miller wrote, I read those phrases over and over again. First, the sentence about Job and then the sentences that followed. I flipped the pages back and forth, back and forth, and read the quotes aloud.
I wondered, “What DOES it mean to be a tree in a story about a forest?”
Here’s what I think: to be a tree in a story about a forest is to know and understand, life is not about us. It is about glorifying God and building His eternal Kingdom. This means having a willingness to pour ourselves out as an offering for the sake of those around us.
No circumstance is ever wasted.
We ultimately have one task here on this earth: glorify God and make disciples of Jesus Christ.
Even in the midst of his suffering, aside from his questioning, Job continued to trust God and remained His faithful servant. Job knew God was sovereign and that his earthly trials held eternal value. He understood God had a plan and that no circumstance is ever wasted.
Job knew it wasn’t about him.
In the same way, we’re not going to have all the answers this side of Heaven, but as Paul reminds us in Romans 8:18, “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
We are called to trust God in our sufferings and remain His faithful servants, even when a situation seems faithless, because the faith of another person may depend on it.
This life is not about us.
We are merely pieces of this story; we are not the story itself.
Accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior in no way means we’ll suddenly live a problem-free life.
Being a Christian is FAR from easy. Thankfully, no circumstance is ever wasted because of what Christ did on the cross.
God is going to use your story to teach others about His story. That, to me, is what it means to be a tree in a story about a forest.