This has been quite a last couple of weeks in our family. It seems like several people in my extended family are going through trying circumstances. For example, my dear older sister, Lynda, is recovering from a very serious two-month hospital stay and is beginning a long recovery at home. There are other situations within my extended family that are very painful to watch, which we have tried to be encouraging in through whatever means we can, offering our home, prayers and support. It just seems like we are in a season where a number of things seem to be going “wrong,” or at least not as we would have hoped for, in the lives of those we love.
I know that there are popular Christian speakers, authors and pastors who give the impression that the Christian life is to be lived on a constantly high plane of radical faith and celebratory joy. And yet another strain of Christian teaching says that if certain principles are followed then certain results can be expected. Both of these teachings are popular, I think, because in our fallen-ness we crave for formulas to find a way to be relatively in control of life.
Both of these approaches leave those who suffer high and dry. The first emphasis causes the sufferer to feel deficient in faith and the second causes the sufferer to feel deficient in obedience. Both heap on feelings of shame.
But what if suffering, things going “wrong,” though not good in and of themselves, and though the inescapable consequence of living in a fallen, sinful world, what if they were somehow gloriously used for the good of the sufferer who simply turns to God in simple child-like faith?
Here’s something that I read recently that resonates with me. “Troubles, misfortunes, disappointments and handicaps, if they but throw us back upon God, if they merely give us opportunity of bringing into play our God-directed imagination and our heaven-blessed sense of humor, may become converted into marvelous good fortune. For trouble, if it merely turns us to God and hence renews our strength, ceases to be evil, and becomes good; it becomes the best thing that could possibly come to us, next to God himself. For our growth in power and happiness depends upon the number of seconds out of each twenty-four hours that we are resting in God.”-From The Soul’s Sincere Desire by Glenn Clark
In each of the extended family situations I have alluded to I have seen those involved turning to God as never before. I have seen His reality be displayed through others who care for them and their faith and gratitude to God shine amidst the pain. I have seen my own apathetic attitude change and a prayerful concern activated. I have seen Christ exalted and His kingdom advance in our extended family in new ways.
The Apostle Paul said it this way: “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.” (Romans 8:28)
Learning To Interpret Things Going Wrong Rightly,
Note: Do you have any stories of God’s Glory showing up in the ordinary? I would love to hear them and share them with a larger audience if you would like! Just email me at (JNBohnett@aol.com)
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