The backstory is the story behind the story. There is always a backstory to every story. The story that you know is not all there is to what is happening to you. Behind every story, God is mysteriously working. How does not knowing the whole story affect your thoughts about the Lord and what He’s writing into your life?
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You will never know the whole backstory, but only the part that you’re living, seeing, and experiencing. God does not reveal the secret things to you (Deuteronomy 29:29). If you live long enough, you may come to see some of the meanings and purposes of the things that happened to you from the past.
Can’t you reflect on the impossible circumstances in your life, a time when there was little clarity, and now you are years—maybe decades—removed from those difficult circumstances, and you see part of God’s mysterious plan?
Wisdom in Secret-Keeping
Key Idea – The Lord will not give you all the details to the script that He’s writing for your life. It’s not possible or wise for finite people to know, understand, and respond to all the revealed works of an infinite God. It is the kindness of God to hide His higher purposes from us.
I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now (John 16:12).
Jesus withheld some of the facts about His mission because of the immaturity of His team. He had an impossible-to-believe-plan; He was going to die on a cross, which was part of the gospel plan (Isaiah 53:12). Nobody was going to stop Him. Nobody could. He will do the things that He appoints for Himself and others.
For he will complete what he appoints for me, and many such things are in his mind (Job 23:14).
I look back on my life and praise God that He was kind enough not to reveal what He was planning for me. If God had laid out for me how my life was going to go, and if I had the choice to choose my path, I probably would not have asked God to regenerate me—humanly speaking here, of course.
You may think I’m out of my mind, but I would tell you that the things I have lost and the hurt I have gone through post-regeneration would have been enough to cause me to rethink my relationship with God before I had a relationship with Him.
You don’t know what you don’t know, and if I did not have a relationship with Him, but did know what I was going to go through, I’m not sure if I would have picked up my cross to follow Him (Mark 8:34). Because I was not a Christian, it would have been easy not to accept Him if I knew the whole story.
Suppose you were Job, and God came to you and said you were going to lose your family, home, land, cattle, and suffer great physical pain. Suppose He gave you a choice to walk away from Him and not go through all of that or to walk with Him, even if it meant going through the most challenging season of your life. What would you do?
Do You Want the Whole Truth?
God did not give Job that option. He did not tell him the backstory. He does not tell us the backstory either, and He does not let us in on His secrets. His hidden agenda is a mercy from the Lord. Our faith is too weak to see all of our troubles coming.
We’re anxious enough as it is. We don’t need to know more than what we already know. Even with the limited perspective that we do have, God goes to great lengths to prove Himself to us while encouraging us to rest in Him (Matthew 6:25-34).
Imagine if He came to you and said some version of Job’s backstory. Could you handle it? Take a look at the backstory of our old friend, Job; I shudder every time I read this verse:
And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD (Job 1:12).
How easy is it for you to lose faith because of what you’re going through and miss the backstory that the Lord is scripting? Here’s the thing about Job: though he did not know the backstory, he did not have to because He trusted God.
Placing faith in the Lord is the most significant thing that you will do. Your first response should not be, “Oh my; I can’t believe this is happening to me.” When the troubled waters in your life envelopes you, the first response should be unwavering faith in God, which looks like this.
- The Lord is writing my story.
- Behind my story, there is a backstory, which has a higher purpose.
- He will not reveal to me what those purposes are.
- Even though I don’t have the whole scoop, I choose to trust God.
- No matter what I am going through, it is not random or purposeless.
- God is at work in my life. Therefore, I will rest in Him while being strengthened by Him.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance, and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:11-13).
When the trouble came to Job, he was appropriately dismayed and overwhelmed, but he did not lose his divine bearings. Before he started a journey through forty-one chapters of frustration and personal doubt, he said,
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” In all this, Job did not sin or charge God with wrong (Job 1:20-22).
Faith—From Beginning to End
Faith in God has to be your starting point. If it is not, it will be impossible to come out on the other side with a sound mind and a God-centered passion. You know the trouble of Job. He wobbled through the book that carries his name.
But he began his journey in faith. You saw his initial response to his troubles (Job 1:20-22). If you go to the first verse of his book, you’ll see why he was able to respond the way he did.
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil (Job 1:1).
One of the observations I have seen in folks who had a hard time persevering through trials is that they did not have a stable and sound relationship with God before they entered their crucibles.
If you are physically weak before you begin a fast, for example, your time of fasting is going to be all the more challenging. If you are spiritually weak before you enter your crucible of suffering, your time in the crucible is going to be all the more severe.
Job walked with God before the Lord walked him into his crucible of suffering. You could say that he was “pre-strengthened” for what lay ahead of him. That is why his initial response was so profound. He did not just roll into town and began walking with God. He had been walking with God for a while.
How about you? How is your relationship with God? One of the ways you can find out is through your trials. There is nothing like a little fiery trial to reveal the condition of a person’s heart.
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).
Maybe revealing your genuine faith is one of the purposes of your backstory. That was most certainly the case with Job. It appears the main point of his ordeal was to reveal why he loved God and to reclarify where he placed his faith.
How about you? Do you believe part of the backstory is God’s desire to demonstrate His power and goodness to you? Could it be that God wants to display to Satan and the world a picture of grace, which is you? Trials reveal Christian maturity and draw attention to motives.
When God Reveals the Backstory
God did reveal Job’s love for Him, and how He did it is not unusual. There was another horrific encounter that came after Job. But in this case, the Lord was more revealing about the backstory in a person’s life. That person was Jesus. Rather than keeping the backstory between God and Satan a secret, Jesus told Peter plainly what was happening behind the scenes.
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers. Peter said to him, Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death. Jesus said, I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day until you deny three times that you know me (Luke 22:31-34).
Isn’t that a stunning story? The Lord revealed more to Peter than He did with Job. He gave him a warning about the trouble that was to come. The irony here is that Job did not know the backstory and trusted God, while Peter learned the backstory and chose to walk away from God.
Knowing or not knowing the whole scoop of what is happening to you is not the key to persevering through difficulties. You need a different kind of knowledge to endure your suffering. It’s not what you know but who you know that will determine how you suffer.
It’s Not What You Know
In your crucible, are you more fixated on the what, the why, or the Who? How you answer that question will not only reveal your heart, but it will show the quality of your perseverance.
If you don’t get this question right, you will be set-up for many hardships. People who focus more on the what or the why of their trouble will stumble over many debilitating obstacles. Things like anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, cynicism, disappointment, and the worst of all, like Peter—a steady drifting from God.
Jesus was correct by stating that Peter would walk away from God. He was secure, confident, and self-assured until he heard the cock crow. Then Peter walked away from the one with whom he swore his allegiance. His relationship with Christ was not what he thought it was or what others may have perceived it to be.
But here is the encouragement: if you are God’s child, He has prayed for you. Be stunned by this truth. The King of heaven has prayed for you. You may be wobbling all over the place, staggering through your suffering, but God is near, and He is working in your life. He will complete what He started with you.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).
My appeal is not a call for you to wobble your way from God, but to wobble your way back to Him. He loves you, and He is working His unrevealed plan in your life. You don’t need to know the why or the what, but you need to trust the One who saved you and called you to do His will.
Call to Action
- If you are wayward because of your struggles, will you come back to Him today? Will you trust Him?
- Will you find the help you need so you can put His name on display by your life, even if your life is not making much sense to you right now?
- Do you understand why knowing all the details of your trouble is not the primary thing? Job did not know the whole story and came to greater faith in God. Peter knew the entire story and came to greater trust in God. Regardless of what you know about your trials, will you come to greater confidence in God?