Sunday, January 29, 2012

Take my life.

Have you ever reached a point in your life when you felt as if you had one too many things fall out of your grasp? You were doing okay, plodding along, when all of a sudden one thing after another fell through your fingertips and before you knew it things were no longer within your control like they used to be?

What's a person supposed to do when things don't land in their lap quite like they would like them to, or when they lose a job, a relationship, a home, or something else equally important? Or maybe all of the above? These things happen all the time.

What comfort is there for a person who has it all and feels like it "all" is taken from them? This is a HARD place to be.

I would like to highlight just a few things that I have found as I have wrestled with this question lately.

1. God is at work in every part of your life, if you are a believer who is seeking after the Lord. Someway. Somehow. This is something we have faith in and choose to believe in. Consider the story of Jonah. In her book, "Disciplines of the Heart", Anne Ortlund uses these references from Jonah to demonstrate how God is at work in everything in his life as he continues to turn back to God:
  • "The Lord provided a great fish" (Jonah 1:17) to rescue him from drowning.
  • "The Lord God provided a vine" (4:6) to shade him.
  • Then "God provided a worm" (4:7) to destroy the shade.
  • And then "God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head" (4:8).
The Lord provided them all: two goods, two bads. (Although if it was me, I don't know that I would consider being swallowed by a giant fish to be a "good" thing!)

2. What Satan meant for harm God can use for good...every time.
I have heard it said many different ways, but Pastor Gregg Matte says it this way: God loves to take our "misery" and make it our "ministry". Joseph's brothers abused him and sold him and do you know what Joseph said to his brothers when they came back around years later?
Genesis 50:20, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good..." Joseph had the mind of Christ, so he was able to forgive his brothers with a pure heart for what they had done to him.
Romans 8:28 is a promise you can cling to: "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."

If you are going through a particularly trying time right now, and it feels like it will never end, don't give up on God just yet. Give it time, allowing God to do His healing and redemptive work in your life, living out of faith trusting that He is at work, because He is. As you choose to "take the high road" like Joseph did, continuing to live out your faith journey, in spite of your circumstances, you will have a testimony like Joseph's years down the road... "What Satan intended to use to harm me, God intended to use for good." Let that be your story.

What have been your hardships, struggles, or hang-ups this year, or these past few years? Bring them before the Lord today. Ask God to bring you healing in those areas where there is still pain, bitterness, grief, hurt, or resentment. Be honest with God. He can handle it. You do not surprise him with your humanity. He created you. Pray that stuff out. Cast your cares upon the Lord because He cares for you! Ask Him to take the frustrations in your life and turn them into something meaningful. Ask Him to open up your eyes to see what it is that you can be doing to fulfill your greater purpose here on earth as it relates to His will, as it is in Heaven. Ask Him to use all of "these things" that have not been "good" in your opinion for His "good", to somehow give you opportunities to rise above your circumstances and get back to a place a peace in your heart. He will honor your prayer and I think you will notice your heart soften even as you pray, and as you surrender your will to His, allowing God to be the God of your life.... and this is where you will find TRUE comfort. You are loved.

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