Our lives are a series of stages and seasons. Sometimes they pass faster than we’d like – when things are great it can seem like time moves too quickly (like holidays, for instance!). Other seasons just seem to go on forever – sickness, waiting, uncertainty, grief – these are seasons we’d love to skip through and yet they can seem interminably long.
Much of this is out of our control. We’re at the mercy of our age, our ageing bodies, the decisions of others or God’s sovereign (but ‘secret’) plans. So the only thing left for us to do is maximise the season we’re in.
Here are eight questions to ask to ensure that whatever season we’re in – however we feel about it – we’re not wasting this time.
1, Where is God?
There is no season in our lives that God is not present. Even when He feels distant – He is not. Look for Him. Be aware of how He is making His presence known – as teacher, comforter, defender, peace, joy … God is always ALL of those things, but in specific seasons we experience different aspects of His character in new or increased ways.
If there is a season for everything, then God is in every season. Look for Him.
2, What can I learn?
Each season holds opportunities to learn new things. What can I discover about myself? What can I learn about other people? When we are forced to walk a path we didn’t want or intend to we often meet people or experience things we might not otherwise have encountered. What can that teach us? What can we learn about the world around us and the character within us?
3, What can I develop?
Some seasons feel like they are ‘on hold’ seasons but they can actually be opportunities to develop skills and character we might otherwise not. Maybe part of the purpose of this season is for you to grow in patience, confidence, empathy, trust, compassion or a particular skill.
4, What does it reveal of me?
For better or worse, various seasons will show our “true colours”. In some situations you might discover that you are stronger or braver than you thought – or it might reveal that you’re NOT as strong or brave as you thought. A season might reveal impatience or intolerance. It might uncover a heart or passion for a cause or a specific group of people. It may reveal a deep trust in God or a strength you didn’t know you had.
5, What is it preparing me for?
Sometimes that’s a bit self-evident. If you’re studying something in Uni it’s probably a preparation for you to USE that study in some sort of work. (That’s the hope, anyway!)
Maybe it’s not quite as clear or obvious as that – but something of this season will be a preparation for a future season. Nothing is ever wasted. Some of your darkest seasons can be preparing you for a unique ministry to others who will go through similar experiences. Some of your greatest joys can be building reserves to draw on through more challenging times ahead.
6, What am I tempted by or to?
In seasons of struggle – of loneliness, grief, sadness, frustration, rejection, or difficulty – we are often tempted to self-soothe or distract to avoid facing them. When we are experiencing dissatisfaction or disappointment, when there is a sense of hopelessness in the season we are in we can turn to things like food, exercise, approval, pornography, alcohol, work, perfectionism, relationship – all manner of temptations or ‘escapes’.
Any of these things can lead us to addiction or to patterns of unhealthy behaviour when we try to avoid or ignore the realities of our season rather than face them.
7, What needs to be resolved?
Is this season you’re in the result of something that is unresolved? It may not be – but it’s a question worth asking. Is your broken relationship with your family because there’s forgiveness that needs to take place? Is there conflict or disconnect to resolve? Do you need to forgive? Do you need to ASK for forgiveness? Do you need to stop blaming someone for something? Do you need to stop blaming yourself? Do you need to get outside or professional help? That’s not to suggest that all our difficult seasons are our own doing, but it is a good question to ask to make sure we’re not being our own worst enemy!
8, What can I give or enjoy?
The uniqueness of each season – difficult or otherwise – will also hold unique opportunities to bless others or experience joy. Sometimes the joy will be harder to grasp and sometimes blessing or serving others will be the last thing we want to do, but maximising the season often comes on the back of taking a posture of focusing on others.