I heard a minister say recently, “We only think God is at work when we’re happy about what he is doing.”
We’ve been conditioned to equate favorable circumstances with God’s favor and unfavorable ones with evil. Yet God uses both the good and the bad in our life to accomplish his purpose in the world as well as our lives.
I’ve heard numerous times that God uses setbacks as setups. He knows that as long as things stay the same, so will we. But it’s only through circumstances that stretch us, and move us out of our comfort zone, that motivates us to change or take a new course of action.
I can reflect on numerous crisis in my life that I thought while I was going through them that the world would end. But in hind sight, what I thought was the end of the world turned out to work in my favor, and was just what I needed to received God’s blessing or move to the next level in my Christian walk.
I remember when I had my first real elementary school teaching job and the principal basically fired me. The week prior to my evaluation and possible rehire, everything, I mean everything, was going wrong. Literally, it was like invisible forces were setting me up to fail. During my evaluation the principal told me that I should look for a different profession and that I wasn’t cut out to be a teacher. I was devastated by her comments; however, within one week of substituting I was hired on permanently at another school that happened to be open year around. This turned out to be a tremendous blessing because I could do my student teaching there and saved thousands of dollars in tuition. I also didn’t have to take out any loans for living expenses. This would not have been possible at the previous school. I ended up teaching 10 more years before leaving the profession altogether.
Then there was the time that my relationship ended with the man who I though was the man of my dreams. This caused me to spiral down into years of depression. And although I know it wasn’t God’s perfect will for me to wallow in depression, he used it to catapult me into my Christian meditation business and ministry that has literally reached thousands of people worldwide. Through my heartache and pain, I discovered the transformative power of dwelling in God’s presence as well as low to bring every thought under the authority of Christ through meditation.
Like me, I’m sure you can reflect upon similar situations in your life where God took what was meant for evil and used it for your good. Romans 8:28 declares, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
All things meaning, our pain, tribulations, crisis, death, tragedy, illness, lack, obstacles, mountains, setbacks, trials, disappointments, and temptations. No experience we face is wasted if we will trust God and believe that He has our back.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we will be free from pain and suffering. In fact, Hebrews 5:8 says that Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered. But God doesn’t want us to fixate on the problem or our suffering; he wants us to keep our eyes on Him. Isaiah 26:3 declares, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.” We will all face the storms of life, but as long as we stay centered in God, in the eye of the storm, we will come through safely and victoriously.
We must rely on God’s promise that says, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard the things that God as prepared to those who love him.” We should meditate on this often and get it rooted deeply in our heart.
2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” As Christians we often forget that our time on this earth is temporary. Everything shall pass away. We’re just passing through. Too often we get caught up with the affairs of this life and to our own detriment. Jesus told us to be in the world but not of the world. When we measure our success and happiness by the worldly standards, we set ourselves up for disappointment. As Christians, we can’t serve both God and money.
1 Peter 4:12 declares, Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trials you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
God uses circumstances to grow and mature us, fulfill his purpose, move us in new directions, and stretch our faith. When things begin to stir in our life, it is usually an indication that transition is coming. That God has something better in store for us. Just think if you had a 25-year old son who slept until noon, watched television to early evening, played basketball for several hours, and then came home, showered, and left until the wee hours in the morning, and this son lived with you! Let’s say he’s been doing this for the past year and feels no need or urgency to change. For him all is well. But on the other hand, you know he needs a job, responsibility, and to make a life for himself. Yet, if you take no action, your son will stay right where he is until something causes him to change is mind or alter his behavior. That something might very well be you. He wakes up one day to find out he must now pay you rent, that he must do certain chores, that he has a curfew and can no longer sleep past 8a.m. Well from the son’s perspective all hell has broke loose. He is under fire. But as his parents you see the big picture, even if he can’t.
God sees the big picture too. Just like in the above illustration, when we think the ship is sinking, God may saying, I’m got to move my child to the next level; I’ve got to move him or her into her purpose; I’ve got to get them walking in a new direction; I need to get them setup for my blessings; or I need to change their perspective about this life.”
God may be thinking, I want to do exceedingly abundantly above what they could ask for imagine or think, but it will never happen as long as they stay on that job, stay in that relationship, live in that house, stay at that church, keep those same habits, hang around that friend, or live in that city. God has to get us out of our bed of security and pull that teddy bear right out of our hands to get us to move.
He does this because He loves us and has so much more for us than what we’re settling for.
God tells us to take discipline as love! God loves us too much to let us stay where we are.
So whatever you’re going through today, what whatever you are suffering through, although it may be difficult, even unbearable, try to see it as just one piece or your puzzle and not the whole picture.
God is lord over everything. He allows it to rain on the just as well as the unjust but God doesn’t do things happenstance. Today, try to look beyond the trees right in the midst in an effort to see a glimpse of the forest ahead and meditate on the possibilities ahead of you!
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