It’s bad enough to be confused about God’s will. It’s even worse to feel guilty about it. Shame is never far behind—aren’t we supposed to have a hotline to God through faith in His promises? And didn’t Jesus guarantee that “He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life”? (John 8:12). So what kind of Christians must we be when we claim and proclaim such magnificent promises yet find ourselves in the darkness of confusion?

We don’t want to blame God. So we blame ourselves.

On behalf of The Hope of Survivors (a non-profit organization whose volunteers serve victims of clergy sexual abuse), this morning I shared advice with someone traumatized about knowing God’s will. She understood that the abuse she suffered was not her fault and now felt free to move on with the rest of her life. But where? Her church family had rejected her, and she had to move to a new location. She thought she discerned God leading her away, but that move didn’t turn out well. What now?

Although you who are reading this may not have suffered sexual abuse, perhaps some of the following thoughts that I shared this morning with the victim may be of interest to you as well. Here goes:

You say you should have listened better to the Holy Spirit about where you should be living now. I think we all know similar frustration. How often we seek to know and do God’s will but end up feeling confused and then often guilty, ashamed, frustrated and sometimes bitter. God’s wonderful promises at such times almost seem to mock us, or at least shame us—and sometimes even condemn us.

So then what? We dare not give up, since “he that endures unto the end shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13). But we never have to endure alone, Jesus said: “‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5–6).

We serve a God who is able (and yes, has promised) to work all things for good. He will work through us, beyond us, and even despite our mistakes to accomplish His gracious purposes. Even “if we are faithless, He remains faithful” (2 Tim. 2:13). In fact, we see in Scripture that when fellow pilgrims like Abraham or David made downright intentional mistakes, God did not forsake them. As they humbly submitted to His correction, He ultimately fulfilled His purpose for their lives.

We may not see God working, and so “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). Life is a journey, and often it seems that we never quite arrive at God’s special place for us. Yet we press toward the mark of God’s high calling in Christ Jesus. Like Abraham, we may spend our whole lives wandering through strange and threatening territory. But someday God will rescue us from this present evil age and preserve us for His heavenly kingdom (2 Tim. 4:18). His trumpet will sound, and everything will suddenly get a whole lot better for a long time.

So even if there is no joy in your world this Christmas season, you may rest in the love and grace of a heavenly Father who will someday make everything good for you.