For we wanted to come to you — certainly I, Paul, did, again and again — but Satan stopped us (1 Thessalonians 2:18 NIV).
Paul desperately wanted to see this Thessalonian church. He apparently was distressed over their welfare. For whatever reason he felt compelled to return to Thessalonica, circumstances prevented his going, circumstances Paul attributed to demonic forces. However, God allowed him peace when Paul sent Timothy in his stead to “strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials.”
So many times when I hit roadblocks, I wanted to quit. “Surely God does not intend for me to go this way. Why is He making it difficult for me when all I want to do is obey Him?
When our desires become thwarted it is difficult to know whether the roadblock is a sign from God for us to turn around or do something else or simply a rough patch God wants to take us through.
How do we tell the difference? It takes prayer — persistent and sometimes agonizing prayer.
Most often it is not God who changes his mind or even that we “didn’t hear him right.”
I have learned that in difficult situations not to automatically attribute obstacles to Him. If we believe God has set us on a course and that course is obscured, it is very possible Satan does not want us to pursue God’s will in our life. In this instance, most often the course-changing winds are not God’s divine intervention. Staying the course in our hearts, we can then submit the circumstances to the Lord, trusting God to overcome.
The disciples feared the storm on the Sea of Galilee and woke the sleeping Savior. He did not order them to retreat. Rather, he calmed the waves and their fears. On the other side of that storm was a man who desperately needed the Savior’s touch, the demon-possessed man who called himself, “Legion.”
It is also true, that God allows things into our lives in order to redirect our efforts to better adapt to His plan for us. It is not that God has changed his mind, for his purpose for us is always our spiritual welfare. We need to examine our desires, commit or recommit them to the Lord, and determine if these things will indeed enhance our devotion. If our desires distract us from an ever-deepening relationship with our Lord and Savior, God may very well send roadblocks destined to return us to his Everlasting Arms.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5 – 6 NIV).