We always want to be at the right place at the right time. I know I definitely want to be at the right place at the right time.
For me, the right place at the right time constitutes of someone handing out free college tuition and paying off college loans. The right place at the right time is someone giving out free cars and me being at that exact place at that exact time. Lord knows that the right place at the right time is me just being there when someone is like “y’know whet? I want to take someone on a vacation to Santorini, Greece” 😊. Essentially, the right place at the right for me is a place filled with fruitful opportunities that will benefit me rather than hurt me.
I always pray fervently to always be at the right place at the right time so I can catch my blessings. After all, in Ecclesiastes 9:11 Solomon wrote, “I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time”.
One day, as I was praying to be at the right place at the right time and collect all my blessings, the Holy Spirit, my wonderful counselor, convicted and challenged my definition of “the right place”.
The right place will not always feel right. But in the long run it is an opportunity that will grow and benefit you. It’ll be a place that you need to be in or pass through to prepare you for where you’re going or get you where you need to be.
For Jesus, he was at the right place at the right time when Judas came and placed the kiss of betrayal on his cheeks. He was at the right place at the right time when he was falsely accused of a crime that he knew nothing of. He was at the right place at the right time on the cross, where he was beaten, mocked, disrobed, and spat on, paying for the remission of our sins. The right place at the right time was in the midst of pain, hurt and loneliness. “I looked for pity, but there was none and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me poison for food and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink” (Psalm 69:20-21).
This was definitely not the right place at the right time that I had in mind and it made me reluctant to pray about being at the right place at the right time or shout out “let your will be done, Lord”.
I was so engrossed on the pain alone that I totally forgot that the pain served a purpose. Just like at the gym, you know your muscles are building when you feel sore after a workout. The pain serves the purpose of letting you know that your muscles are growing.
My mistake was I was so fixated on the anguish that Jesus experienced, that I forgot that the story wasn’t over yet. His story did not end in pain and in humiliation.
For my Jesus, the right place at the right time was in that grave, not because that was his final destination or because he belonged there but because he had some unfinished business to take care of. He needed to be in the grave so he could defeat it and silence it finally. He needed to die so he could rise. Now, death has no hold on him. He is eternal, immortal and everlasting. He was exactly where he needed to be so he could save all of mankind. Everything he went through prepared him for and led him to his eternal glory. The cross was a crucial part of his story but the cross was not the ending of his story!
Sometimes where you are is exactly where you are supposed to be, even in the midst of tribulations and the worst trials of your life. It is not the devil “doing” you. He did not co- author your life. He wasn’t even referenced. It is God preparing you and molding you for a greater purpose than yourself. You are Gods child so he is the author and finisher of your faith. He wrote your biography, so he knows the beginning from the end and the end from the beginning. He is the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning AND the end!
If God is good and God is love, and he is the beginning and the end, what makes you think your “end” is filled with anything other than goodness, love, joy and peace? Where you are right now, whatever you’re going through, he already knows about. It is not to harm you but to prosper you and to elevate you.
For Naomi, she had to experience loss to leave where she was to get where she needed to be. “I went away full and the Lord has brought me back empty handed…and they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest” (Ruth 1:21-22). It wasn’t a coincidence, that after experiencing loss, she came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the harvest. She needed to be to be emptied to be fulfilled.
The emptying and the pruning is not always a sweet experience, as it might cause us to get rid of things that we are not ready to let go off. But to receive your blessings, you have to create space for it. God cannot pour into you if you’re already full of the wrong things. “He must increase, but I must decrease” John 3:30.
The right place will not always look like what you imagined and might feel very uncomfortable. I am learning not to confine my “right place” to a feeling or emotion and not to attach my joy to happy situations only.
A butterfly must squeeze out of his tiny cocoon to fly. The cocoon is exactly where the butterfly needs to be but it is not exactly the most comfortable place. Without the struggle of trying to squeeze out, the butterfly doesn’t gain the strength it needs for its wings to take flight. Without the struggle, the wings are not strong enough to cause the butterfly to fly, so instead the butterfly shrivels up and dies.
“2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
So, is there a purpose for the pain? Absolutely.
Is the right place always comfortable or where we want to be at that exact moment? Definitely not.
33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33