“Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things.” Henry Ward Beecher
The simplest statements are often the most profound. Several years ago the opening sentence of M. Scott Peck’s book, The Road Less Traveled, stunned me. All he simply wrote was, “Life is difficult.” That one 3 word sentence was my personal take away from his book. It was profound to me because up to that time I had believed the myth that the Christian life was supposed to be easy.
No one is immune to difficulties. It doesn’t matter what your social-economic status is, nor your birth order, or whether you’re single or married, with children or not; you will have hard circumstances in life to respond to. Jesus even says in John 16:33, “In this world you WILL have trouble.” Okay, so tribulations are a guarantee in life, right up there with taxes and death. We can expect life at times to be difficult.
Trials come in many different shapes and sizes. They can come in the form of financial stress, physical health issues, a miscarriage, the loss of a job, the death of a vision, or the myriad of relational discords with those we love.
We’ve all either experienced hurt in the past, are experiencing it today, or will one day be hurt by someone. I’m a firm believer that God redeems the hurt in our lives. He alone turns our ashes into a crown of beauty, our mourning into the oil of gladness and our spirits of despair into garments of praise. (Isaiah 61:3) The sunsets in our lives eventually turn into sunrises and even lemons can be made into refreshing lemonade. The crux is whether or not we allow Him to redeem our pain. The choice is always ours to make. If you choose to stay stuck feeling sorry for yourself or playing the role of a victim, you will never get to see the breathtaking beauty of a sunrise, nor taste the sweet and sour delight of a cold glass of lemonade.
Romans 8:28-29 speaks about God working for the good in our lives, according to His purpose…to be conformed to the likeness of His Son Jesus. Yes, there is purpose in our pain!
Recently the Lord showed me His redemptive purpose in my current struggle in life and when He did, hope was birthed! If you’re like me, you don’t want to waste your pain. Your desire is to learn what God wants to teach you so you don’t have to retake that class! He told me He is developing and strengthening His quality of kindness in my character. That one revelation, that one tiny peek up His sleeve, gave me oodles of grace to keep persevering. He encouraged me to ask myself in this particular situation, “What does kindness look like?” And then I’m to choose to do just that. He went on to inspire me with the thought that when people see and experience kindness through me, they will be seeing and experiencing God.
Godly wisdom is seeing things from God’s perspective or God’s point of view (GPOV). It’s as if we’re standing on top of a mountain with the whole city in view, versus being at the bottom of the mountain with only the mountain in front of you. God’s POV gave me a renewed motivation to keep on keeping on, to not become discouraged, but rather encouraged that He has a plan with all my pain.
The entirety of John 16:33 reads: “These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” In Him, we can have peace in our pain. Knowing He’s overcome the world and there’s hope in His redemptive purpose, makes it a bit easier to suffer in the difficulties of life. Only God can turn our misery into His ministry.
“As sure as ever God puts His children in the furnace He will be in the furnace with them.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Relevant Reflections: 1. What troubles in life are you currently experiencing? 2. Spend time alone with God listening for His redemptive purpose in your pain. 3. How has God turned your misery into His ministry?