Living With Purpose in the Unknown

By BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

One of the greatest questions you will ask in life is, “Why am I here?” In other words, “What is the purpose of my life?” As Christians, we know we have an eternal purpose. We have been given the task by Jesus to be His ambassadors here on earth (2 Corinthians 5:20) – to be His representatives in sharing the truth of who He is and why He came. Despite this divine purpose, we can find ourselves facing challenges and trials that cause us to question why God would allow us to go through them. Surely an all-powerful and all-loving God could bring about His plan in a different way, so “why” would He allow this to happen?

This very question was at the center of a conversation I had with my then 14-year-old daughter, Moriah. She was going through a difficult time in her life: Besides having to deal with a concussion that prevented her from completing her first year of soccer at her school, she was facing a third surgery on her left ankle. For the past three plus years she had struggled with chronic pain and lack of mobility in her left ankle, which not only limited her physical activity but also impacted her daily activities. Moriah was weeks away from another surgery; a full bone fusion that would bring with it a long recovery process. Not knowing the final outcome of this procedure, she chose to play soccer. Since running caused excruciating pain, she decided to play goalie. After weeks of hard training she was ready to play in her first game. But in the process of making a diving save, she hit her head on the ground, missing not only the next game, but the rest of the season. Although Moriah is not one to complain, the emotional stress of all these events weighed down on her and in a moment of exhaustion she asked, “Why would God let this happen?”

I reiterated to her that sometimes we do not know the “why,” but this does not mean there is not a purpose. I shared how God could use these challenges in her life to help her grow in her faith and allow her to encourage others going through similar situations. These were the same words that my dad shared with me when, ironically, I faced an ankle surgery around the same age. Remembering how I felt, I figured these words would also make sense to her sometime in the future. However, God showed me that He was working much faster in my daughter’s life than He did in my life.

A few days after my daughter and I had talked, my wife was emptying the trash. In my daughter’s trash can, my wife found the rough draft of a letter that Moriah had written to Ryan Shazier. For those who do not know him, Ryan played football for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and had suffered a severe back injury. Below is an excerpt of what Moriah wrote:

Dear Ryan, I am praying for you every day. I know how it feels to go through a difficult time. I am going to be having a third ankle surgery because of a birth defect. It causes me to have a lot of pain when I do physical activity. So I have to pretty much rest and ice my ankle every night…. Sometimes we don’t know why God lets us go through difficult times. My favorite singer, Tauren Wells, has helped me to understand more why God has me going through all of this. His song “God’s Not Done With You” reminds us that though we might be going through something difficult God has a plan for us and He will use it to bless us and others…. Even though no one knows why you had to be the one to hurt your back, God knows and He will use it for the plans He has for you! I will continue to pray for you and I hope you feel better soon!

We will experience difficulties in our lives, but as we go through them, may we never forget that we serve a faithful God. A God who has a purpose in all that we face.

Be merciful to me, O God! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by. I will cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me (Psalm 57:1, 2).