When my son, John, was a freshman in college, he was in desperate need of a car. My husband Joe was driving a very old vehicle at the time, and he told John that as soon as he could find a newer car for himself, he would give our son the one he was currently driving. Shortly afterwards, we were delighted to discover that one of my sisters was selling her car, and she would be more than happy to let Joe buy it. Right before we were to pick up my sister's car, my older son, Joseph's, car broke down. When he brought it to be fixed, he was told that because of the age and condition of the car, it wasn't worth repairing. Because Joseph was on his own and had a full-time job, my husband and I felt compelled to offer him the car meant for John. Naturally, John was bitterly disappointed. He had already told all of his friends about his "new" car, and he had his heart set on it. I told him to do his best, with God's help, to maintain a good attitude about the matter, so that the Lord would work everything out for his good in the long run. As it turned out, John didn't harbor any ill feelings toward us or his brother, and we all prayed that God would honor and reward him for his Christlike attitude. Some weeks later, my husband found an especially good deal on a new car, and he happily presented my sister's old car to John. Though he had missed out on the vehicle that was originally intended for him, John wound up with a newer and nicer car - with more options than he ever expected.
This experience is just another reminder to us that God is a giver, not a taker. The Bible says that "God so loved the world that He GAVE..." (John 3:16 NIV) And Romans 8:32 (NIV) says: "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all - how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?" When we suffer a loss of some kind, why are we so quick to believe that God wants to rob us of something good? I'm not saying that every time we lose something or suffer disappointment, we should be jumping for joy. Life is hard, and it's filled with losses and disappointments, and there will be times when we need to cry and feel sad for a while. But I do believe that how we view God and His dealings with us during these times will have an impact on our ultimate outcome.
When things don't go our way, when our expectations aren't fulfilled, we can be tempted to get angry at God or other people. We can also be tempted to drown in self-pity, and to whine and complain about the injustices of life. But that will do us no good at all. What WILL do us good is to have a different mindset. Suppose when my son, John, found out that my husband and I were giving the car meant for him to his brother instead, he threw a fit and became bitter and resentful toward us and our other son? Do you really think that God would have honored that kind of behavior by rewarding him with an even better vehicle? I sincerely doubt it. The Bible clearly states that we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7), and bitter feelings and attitudes always yield a bitter harvest. Fortunately, John chose to trust in God's good and giving nature, and because of that, he was able to resist responding to his disappointment with anger or resentment, clearing the way for the Lord to richly reward him.
Perhaps a good illustration is one I heard long ago from a godly man. Imagine God asking you to give Him twenty dollars. That's a lot of money to you, so you hesitate, but then finally give in and hand it over to Him. In return, He gives you a hundred dollar bill. Well, if you had known in advance that He was going to give you much more than what you gave up, you would have gladly handed over that twenty dollars. But you didn't know. And most of the time, God doesn't reveal to us in advance that He is asking us to give up one thing, so that He can give us something even better in return. That's exactly why the Bible talks so much about the importance of trusting God. If we believe that God is good, just, and generous - that He's a giver and not a taker - we will handle the losses and disappointments that come our way with a better attitude, and God will richly reward us in the end.
The next time you're faced with a situation like my son's, refuse to see the Lord as anything but the loving, giving God that He is. And rest on His precious promise that says: "No good thing will the Lord withhold from those who do what is right. O Lord Almighty, happy are those who trust in You!" (Psalm 84:11-12 NLT)
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times I suffered a loss or disappointment, and reacted badly about it. From now on, teach me to see these experiences as tests, and help me to pass them with a holy ease and joy, so that I can receive all the promotions, victories, and blessings You have in store for me. Thank You for helping me to see You as You really are - a good and gracious God who loves to give to His children!
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