The other day, a dear friend of mine took a nasty fall down the stairs. As she was carrying a basket of laundry down to her basement, she turned her ankle, and went tumbling to the floor. Memories of similar injuries she sustained the previous year came flooding back to her, and she berated herself for her clumsiness. She managed to drag herself to the kitchen, where she prepared a bag of ice to put on her sore ankle. As she stretched out on the sofa, she eyed a book of Scriptural prayers that I had recently sent her, and that she had placed on her end table. As she turned to the Lord in prayer, He spoke to her heart, and lovingly dealt with her about the fears and doubts that had been consuming her in recent days. Her husband was experiencing some disturbing health problems, and instead of praying and trusting God for the outcome, she was continually preoccupied with fretting and worrying about him. She told me later how she considered this mishap a "wake-up call," and she was grateful to the Lord for getting her attention the way He did.
My friend's experience made me think of a Scripture that the Lord showed me many years ago: "By means of their suffering, He rescues those who suffer. For He gets their attention through adversity." (Job 36:15 NLT) In other words, sometimes God will allow adversity and suffering to touch our lives, because (1) He wants to grab our attention, and (2) He has a divine purpose for it, and will work it out for our good. We live in a generation that encourages a lifestyle of constant busyness. Even the most devoted Christians often say that their greatest challenge is to set aside time each day to get alone with God to pray and read His Word. The sad truth is that many of us would rarely take the time to slow down and seek God, unless we were faced with adverse circumstances.
When trouble hits, we have two choices: We can either settle down and ask, "Is there something You'd like to teach me through this, Lord?" Or we can become angry and take our frustration out on God, ourselves, and others. To my friend's credit, she chose to settle down and ask the Lord to speak to her heart. And He rewarded her with peace, joy, and divine wisdom that would be very valuable to her in the days ahead. But as the Bible says, there are those who will not respond so positively to adversity. Job 36:13 (NIV) says: "The godless in heart harbor resentment; even when He fetters them, they do not cry for help." When God allows difficult circumstances to squeeze them into a hard place, some folks become resentful and bitter, and the last thing they'll do is turn to Him for help. If this attitude characterizes you, let me give you some good advice straight from the Word of God today: "Don't let your suffering embitter you at the only One who can deliver you." (Job 36:18 TLB) No matter what challenges or heartaches you are facing today, God is more than able and willing to use them for your good. But you have to do your part by humbling yourself before Him, and asking for His help.
When adversity hits, one of the first things I do is claim God's powerful promise in Romans 8:28 (NLT): "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them." Many times, with tears streaming down my face, I say, "Lord, I thank You that some way, somehow, You are going to work this out for my good." Doing this fills me with a fresh sense of hope, and enables me to face the situation with an inner peace and joy in my soul. Jesus said: "In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]" (John 16:33 AMP) The Savior is telling us here that though we will definitely face troubles of many kinds in this life, we don't have to let them defeat, depress, or discourage us. We can rise above our circumstances as we cling to the Lord, and we can claim the supernatural overcoming power that belongs to us in Christ!
Prayer: Lord, whenever adversity strikes, help me to keep my eyes on You, and to seek Your wisdom, guidance, and grace. Protect me from anger, resentment, and doubt, and give me a teachable spirit that is receptive to any lessons I need to learn. Thank You that as I cling to You in times of trouble, You will turn my tribulations into triumphs!
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