Updated: Mar 29, 2019
It’s easier than you might think.
My wife Carolyn is better at making difficult decisions than me. I tend to think it all through very carefully, weighing the pros and cons, taking time to analyze all aspects and so on. Carolyn, on the other hand, comes to a conclusion quickly, announces her decision without hesitation and it’s over. I’ve often been a little envious of her in this.
A good example is when we first met. Carolyn was quickly convinced that I was the one for her and that we should get married. (She made it clear to me.) But I was slower to come to that conclusion. In fact, she is happy to take credit for our marriage happening. She’s convinced that if she wouldn’t have pushed me along, we would never have gotten married.
In my weaker moments like right now, I admit that she’s probably right.
Maybe you’re more like Carolyn or maybe you’re more like me. If you’re more like me, this article should be especially helpful.
I’ve gotten better at making decisions, both big and small ones, based on my biblical understanding of a passage of Scripture in the Epistle of James.
So from James 1, here are 3 steps to know God’s will in difficult decisions:
01. Thank God for your difficult situations.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4 ESV)
When we face difficult situations, we often think that means we’re outside of God’s will. This passage says something different. Being in God’s will doesn’t necessarily mean that life will be easy.
So the first step in making difficult decisions is to thank God that even in trials, He makes good things happen.
The progress of this good that happens is described in verses 2-4: trials produce faith and steadfastness. In time, as we remain steadfast, we become complete or mature.
So stop thinking that ease means you’re in God’s will and trials mean you’re out of God’s will. Thank God that whether times are easy or difficult, He is making “all things to work together for good.” (Romans 8:28)
02. Pray for guidance and believe that God will give it.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5 ESV)
This step is remarkably simple: We are to pray for God’s wisdom and know that He will enlighten us.
In the past I’ve struggled with this because it seems too easy. I’ve thought, “Do you mean I just ask God for wisdom and He gives it?”
The answer is “Yes, that’s exactly what it says.”
Some call this:
A word of knowledge (1 Corinthians 12:8)
Sometimes this comes quickly. Other times it takes longer. But it is God’s promise to give wisdom or guidance.
It gets easier the more you learn to know the shepherd. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27 NKJV)
It’s not complex, but there is a danger. Sometimes we hear what we want to hear. For this reason, we must use other resources to confirm our leading:
Scripture. Our leading must never, ever contradict the Bible.
Spouse and family. The person who says to family members, “This is what God says to do and I don’t care what you think” is headed for trouble.
Wise counselors. We should never be afraid to listen to and consider what others have to say on the issue. (Proverbs 15:22)
The passage of time. Does the sense of leading grow with time? Or does it decline?
After considering these other resources, we can move ahead in faith and confidence in our difficult decisions.
03. Trust God’s guidance without doubting.
“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:6-8 ESV)
In a nutshell, this verse says “don’t be wishy-washy.” Or “don’t waffle.”
This verse used to bother me. Now it is a great comfort.I used to see it as a rebuke. Now I see it as a confirmation.
I now choose the positive approach believing that God does lead (as He promises) and my job is to just to trust His leading.
As previously mentioned, something that has helped me with this perspective is understanding that God’s leading in difficult decisions doesn’t mean all my trials will be over. In fact, God’s leading might lead me into the greatest trials of my life.
If that happens, we simply return to the first point: “Thank God for your trials.”
Carolyn and I had to do this when back in 2005 we bought property on which to build our dream home. But soon afterwards came the mortgage crisis and the “Great Recession.” No one would loan us money to build our new home.
Finally, one bank told us that if we had a million dollars cash in our bank, then they would loan us money. In other words, if we didn’t need the money, they would loan us the money!
For 10 years we waited. We asked bank after bank. We tried to think of every approach that might secure a construction loan.
We wondered if God had misled us. We almost gave up.
Finally, in 2014 we got a loan! Then we began building and moved into our new home in 2015. We were elated!
God had not misled us. He used the waiting time to build our character. Likewise, He will not mislead you. You can trust His leading, even in difficult decisions.
For more help on this website with decision making and guidance, check out these resources:
quotecard We Make Our Decisions…
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