Our pet duck, Larry, will soon be celebrating his 12th birthday. He has had his share of ups and downs over the years, especially where his health is concerned. Right now, he looks fit and strong, and there's a good reason for that. Every spring, dozens of wild mallard ducks visit our yard. They come and feed on the birdseed that my husband, Joe, and I put out every day for the birds. We used to chase away all the wild ducks that came to our property, because we saw how their presence would upset Larry. He would pace back and forth in the large pen that we built for him and his mate, Lily, and it seemed as though he could find no rest. When we allowed our ducks out of their pen each day to forage, Larry would relentlessly pursue every intruding duck until he wore himself out. Eventually, we stopped chasing away the wild ducks from our yard. Why? Because we discovered that allowing them to come and get Larry riled up made our little man sleek, strong, and quick. Every winter, Larry gains weight and becomes passive, lethargic, and even walks with a limp. But when the springtime ducks arrive, he becomes a force to be reckoned with.
As I thought about this whole scenario recently, God gave me a revelation that has encouraged my heart and brought me peace in troubled times. Just as Joe and I don't prevent challenges from coming against our Larry, the Lord often chooses not to prevent obstacles and challenges from coming against His people. Jesus warned us in advance that we would experience "tribulation and trials and distress and frustration" in this world. (John 16:33 AMP) So it shouldn't surprise us when we encounter difficulties. What we have to remember is that every time the Lord allows us to face adversity, it's because He has a divine purpose for it, and He knows that we will profit from it somehow. His sacred promise to His followers is that He will cause ALL things to work together for their good (Romans 8:28), and if it won't benefit them somehow, then He simply won't allow it. I sometimes imagine Larry thinking, "Why do they allow these other ducks to come around when they know how much they upset me?" He doesn't realize that we allow them for his own good. And he doesn't understand that if he just trusted that we know what is best for him, he would be able to stop stressing over the situation, and appreciate the benefits he is reaping.
The Bible reveals that the culprit behind our troubles is Satan. It tells us to remain alert and aware, constantly watching out for our "great enemy, the devil," who "prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8 NLT) It says that we are to take our stand against him, being strong in our faith. And it reminds us that our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world are experiencing the same kind of suffering we are. (v.9) Then come some of the most encouraging words in all of Scripture. "And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you." (1 Peter 5:10 AMP) This is Almighty God's guarantee to His devoted ones that He is constantly working in us in the midst of our trouble and pain - strengthening us, perfecting us, and settling us - so that we can become all He created us to be, and fulfill the plans and purposes He intended for us.
Even though Larry is old in years, he becomes sleek, strong, and fast each spring when the wild ducks come around. And he transforms from a weak and powerless victim, into a formidable opponent. Likewise, you and I can become a force to be reckoned with against the forces of evil - if we will trust our God in the midst of our trials, and cooperate with Him for our good and His glory!
Prayer: Lord, when I face difficulties of any kind, help me to see them from Your perspective, instead of from the world's. Show me how to respond to every challenge with a Christlike attitude, so that I can reap the benefits You have for me, and avoid unnecessary pain. Thank You that as I cooperate with You in times of suffering, You will transform me into a powerful force for good!
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