When God closes a door and there is no window

There’s a popular expression, “When God closes a door, he opens a window.” It’s a pithy phrase used to bolster faith when circumstances are hard. The problem comes when people can’t find the window. What are we to do then?

As a pastor I meet often with people who feel like they are out of options. How do I encourage them?

  1. Admit reality. In those situations where you are ready to move and can’t, it can be irritating. Why, of all people, do some Christians feel the need to put on the plastic smile? We know sin. We know the curse. The Bible tells us that things are not how they are supposed to be. Failure to acknowledge this suckiness makes me wonder if we recognize our need for God in those closed-door-no-window situations.
  2. Trust the Word. When Jesus prays in Gethsemane, it appears he’s looking for a window. Yet he recognizes that it is more important to do the Father’s will. For Jesus, there is no window. He goes to the cross. Fast forward in the story to Paul. With the cross in mind, Paul asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” He then asks if 7 different closed-door-no-window circumstances of tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or sword will keep us from God (Rom. 8:35). The answer is, “No!” Nothing will separate us from his love. In a sense, we have THE door (John 10:9) for all time.
  3. Know his will. People will collapse on my couch and with exasperation say, “I just want to know God’s will for my life!” What they are saying is, “It’s unclear what I should do next.” They don’t see a door or window. What I try to communicate is the God’s will for their lives is so much more than a destination (e.g. this job or that, this city or that, this church or that). It is chiefly about your character. Regardless of where God has puts us, he cares that we trust Christ as Savior (1 Tim. 2:3-6), put God first in everything (1 Cor. 10:31), and are sanctified (1 Thess. 4:3). An apparent absence of a door and windows can be perceived as God hiding his will. It’s not true.
  4. Hold the course. What’s the last clear instruction/word you have heard from God? Stick with it. It may be that he does not want you moving yet. Any banging down the door or cutting open your own window could be disobedience. Paul learned the secret of being content in every situation whether well fed or hungry, living in plenty or in want. In those closed-door-no-window circumstances, what would it look like to be still and remember that he is God (Psalm 46:10)?

These few reminders have been helpful to me in my own life and to those I talk with.

QUESTION: What have you found to be helpful instruction in those times of your life where God has closed a door and there is no window?

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Posted on by Cor in FAITH

3 Responses to When God closes a door and there is no window

  1. Joey

    This is a great post! I haven’t often felt like God closed a door on me with no way out, but when I have, Psalm 42:11 has always been a great reminder of God’s faithfulness. “Why are you cast down, oh my soul; why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I will yet praise him, who is the help of my countenance and my God.” (That’s from memory and might be a blend of versions.)

    I love the simplicity of that call to hope in God. It doesn’t offer a specific solution. It doesn’t blame anyone – me, God, other people. It just says, “Hey, life is messed up right now. Hope in God, praise him, he is faithful.” And I’ve always found that to be true and it’s what I try to encourage others with. There is no formula for finding a way out. It’s one step at a time. But God is not the author of sin and he’s not the author of the mess in our lives. And that’s really important to remember.

    • Cor

      This is such a great psalm. Your words couldn’t be more spot on, Joey.

  2. Cara

    I sometimes think of the end of Habakkuk 3. Habakkuk has been faced with devastating news about future suffering that his people will have to endure. His response?

    Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

    Facing an impending famine in an agrarian society is a pretty big closed door. We all have suffering in our lives, and I know some have endured tragedy. But for me, I have definitely not experienced suffering of the magnitude Habakkuk is facing. And yet, he focuses not on the circumstance at hand but instead on continuing to take joy in the Lord. So, as I encounter various closed doors…circumstances that aren’t what I would choose for myself…and wait patiently for the door or window to appear, I want to respond like Habakkuk. Taking joy in the Lord, in spite of (or maybe even because of) my present circumstances. I often need to remind myself that most of these circumstances are quite momentary from the eternal perspective, but walking with the Lord and taking joy in Him endures forever.

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