Finding Purpose – 3 Things To Learn
Sometimes finding purpose simply means that we “do the right thing” in the face of adversity.
[Deuteronomy chapter 6 verse 18 says, “And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land of which the LORD swore to your fathers.” (NKJV)
We are going to take a look at individuals who found purpose in the midst of adversity and then discover THREE things we can learn and apply to our own lives.
While pondering the verse in Deuteronomy chapter 6, I began to think about some of the men and women in scripture who found the times they lived in to be unfavorable, to say the least. These are inspirational men and women who may or may not have counted the cost, nevertheless, they did what was right and their lives served a purpose that was bigger than themselves.
The Hero’s that stand out are the ones who simply DID WHAT WAS RIGHT.
- NOAH: In the midst of a world of unrighteousness, Noah chose to live and lead his family in righteousness. God showed Noah what his purpose in life was, after his choice to live righteously.
- JOSEPH: While behind prison bars Joseph not only maintained integrity but looked for opportunities to use his gifts – the prison bars did not stop him from finding moments to “do what was right”. With a famine in the future, Joseph’s purpose and destiny eventually came to the surface. He became a productive member of society, devising a plan to feed the hungry during a time of lack.
- DANIEL & FRIENDS: Daniel and his companions did what was right when they were told to bow down to the idol Gods. They never tried to convert Babylon but simply did what was right before their God and it touched the heart of the Babylonian King. There was a divine purpose (beyond their own abilities) when they stood strong in the face of death.
- MIDWIVES: When the order came to kill the baby boys, the midwives did what was right in the sight of God and saved the babies. Despite what the law said, the midwives answered to a higher law and God’s people continued to grow.
- JEHOSHEBA: Jehosheba rescued a small boy from a life of destruction by hiding him securely in her own care. This small boy later became King. His rule brought a calm to the land as they tore down the altars of idol Gods. While he reigned as King, he did what was right in the sight of the Lord. Jehosheba found purpose in putting her own life on the line and rescuing a small child from death.
- JOCHEBED: When the nation of Egypt said to kill all the baby boys Jochebed did what was right and saved her son Moses. This man grew and led all of Israel out of bondage.
- PETER: When the authorities released Peter with a strict warning to never speak the name of Jesus, he responded with “I cannot help but speak the things which I have seen and heard.” Peter refused to silence the Gospel message that was entrusted to him and his adversities led to the spreading of this great message and many being saved.
- JOSIAH: King Josiah did what was right when he dug God’s word out of a pile of rubble, dusted it off, and tore down everything in his home that exalted itself against the knowledge of the one true God.
- GIDEON: Gideon did what was right when used a wine press to provide grain for his family. The angel found Gideon doing what was right, having character and honor. It was in his daily, upright, decisions that a greater purpose was revealed from on high.
- CORNELIUS: Cornelius did what was right when he offered gifts to the poor and prayers to heaven, though he was a gentile. The faithfulness of Cornelius came before God and the doors were opened for the gentile race to receive the promise of the Holy Spirit.
3 Things About Finding Purpose In The Midst of Adversity:
1. They found purpose, but they were not really looking for it. What if purpose finds you instead?
We take these metaphorical journeys trying to answer this question, “what on earth am I here for?” I completely understand this and have found myself in the same place, more times than I care to admit. However, something shifts when you face extreme adversity in life. All of a sudden “who you are” becomes more important than what you do, or the recognition that you receive. Let’s be honest, many times this purpose journey is more about feeling significant and being seen than answering the question, “what’s my purpose?” If God really showed us that we would find our purpose in a dark prison, or isolated from society, or in a secret prayer life… would we really be excited to show up and sign up? The individuals in the list above found their purpose when they were not actually looking for it, as a matter of fact, we could say that their purpose found them. Take a look at the list above, do you see a theme? These were individuals that did what was right in the sight of God and not a man. Don’t miss the daily opportunities to do what is right because you are distracted by searching for the “big purpose.”
Which character(s) do you relate to the most? Right now I relate to Gideon and Cornelius the most.
2. Their purpose was bigger than their temporal life and their own abilities, but they could have never known this in their daily moments.
We can’t get stuck looking for that “bigger than life” purpose. All of us have a purpose that will outlive our life here on this earth, this is called a legacy. Some of us will have an opportunity to experience the “bigger than life” moments, while others will die believing that their everyday choice to be faithful will have an impact far beyond their grave. Did the midwives ever consider that one day we would be reading their heroic story? Did Moses’s mother know that her son would be the key in leading God’s people from bondage, after over 400 years of slavery?
Gideon’s daily decisions led to a moment where God asks him to do something far beyond his own ability. He could have never planned for this encounter but God found him in this faithful state of “being” and decided he was the man for the job. God would ask Gideon to fight a battle with impossible odds and Gideon would have to rely on the miraculous help from Heaven for victory. Once our purpose finds us, we will be asked to do things beyond our own abilities. This is because our purpose is to bring God glory and this happens when God is seen as the one who makes the impossible, possible.
What if that one moment, that one decision to “do the right thing” – even when it is the hard thing – is the key to unlocking a purpose far greater than you can imagine; far beyond your own abilities?
3. They believed God and trusted in His ways above everything else
It can be very difficult to believe God and trust that His ways are better than ours when life is not fair and even cruel. Most of the individuals in our examples could have asked: “why would God allow this to happen?” The truth is that we don’t get to see what is around the corner or understand “why” something is happening at the moment. Most of the time, the only thing we have to cling to is our belief system, either we believe God is good and His ways are perfect or we don’t. This belief system is never contingent upon our circumstances — insert “easier said than done”—
Scripture says that the sun rises over the evil and the good, that it rains on both the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45) The thing that sets God’s people apart during hard times is hope! Hope is never in what we see, but in what we believe to be true. Romans chapter eight says that all of creation was subjected to the curse of sin but not without hope.
What if you began to meditate on the verse in Deuteronomy 6:18 and you began to say it out loud, every day? Would you have a new response in the times of adversity? Would you begin to believe, that no matter what, “if I do what is right in this moment, my soul will find wholeness, and purpose will find me?” Would you start living from hope?
Cain is challenged to do the right thing
Every day we have these moments, these perfect opportunities to choose what is right and our circumstances, environment, and laws do not have the power to dictate these choices. Cain (in the book of Genesis) found himself between two choices, doing the right thing or giving into that bitter sense of hopelessness. God steps right into the thick of Cain’s darkest thoughts about blaming and murdering his brother, reminding him of this one precept, DO THE RIGHT THING.
Equipped is all about helping people discover purpose. However, we believe that if we focus on Identity (who you are above what you are), Truth, Transformation, and Righteous living that purpose will in-fact find you! Don’t neglect the discovery process but don’t miss the moments to simply do what is right throughout your day.
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By Nicki McLeod, Equipped and Effective