Most of the time, we want God to change our circumstances. “Lord,” we pray, “I don’t like this. It hurts. Would you please take it away.” This is a normal reaction because none of us like pain or suffering. But is it the right response?
Think of it this way: What if God said yes and changed your circumstances? On the surface, we would, of course, be ecstatic. The pain and suffering would be gone – a thing of the past. But what happens when the next storm, or dark providence, comes into your life? “Lord, take this away,” and the cycle repeats.
That cycle can be interrupted by realizing that the best thing that could happen is not God changing our circumstances, but rather God changing us. Here’s something we need to remember: God brings these circumstances – this pain, this suffering – to change us, to mature us, and to grow us up. James says, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4). Or consider Paul’s statement in Romans 8:28-29: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.
It’s entirely possible for us to have our circumstances changed while we remain entirely unchanged. To paraphrase John Piper, “Don’t waste your pain.” God’s plan is to use our circumstances to make us more like Christ, and to achieve that end, our best response is to ask Him to change us for His glory and our good.