The Silver Lining of Suffering

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1Thes. 5:18, NIV)

It is easy to fixate on difficulties and disappointments in life. In fact, anyone can point out problems and things that are far from perfect. It takes a unique person to stare heartache in the face and not be overcome with negativity. But those who choose to find the silver lining of suffering will be far more content than those who see only the storm.

In arduous seasons, don’t squander your time focusing on the negative. Instead, embrace each moment, especially the difficult ones, as gifts from above. Tribulation can bring unique opportunities to grow, learn and mature. It is when we face affliction that we have incentive to draw closer to Christ.

I am convinced that God allows suffering in our lives because he is more interested in our character than our comfort. While God does not want us to hurt, he knows that adversity can produce in us an end result much greater than where we began. His word says that, “… in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NIV)

When used correctly, trials can purge us of ungodly attitudes and make us more holy. In these times, our relationship with God can be strengthened. Instead of bemoaning your difficult circumstance, ask Christ to help you make the most of this unique opportunity.

Are you facing difficulties today? It could be just what you need to draw you closer to Christ. Remember, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8, ESV)

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Panic

Even with those hooks aptly placed by the front door, I tend to misplace my keys on a regular basis. Although, now with four drivers in the house, even if the keys make it to the hooks, there is no guarantee that they will be there when I am ready to walk out the door. It is always when I am already running late that those pesky keys aren’t where they should be. I check my purse, my tote, my desk, my coat without finding them. Then I frantically ask the girls to check their bags, jackets, and rooms. In that moment when my keys are nowhere to be found, I panic! Have you ever experienced this, or is it just me running around like a chicken without a head?

“God is never in a panic, nothing can be done that he is not absolute master of, and no one on earth or heaven can shut a door he has opened, nor open a door he has shut. God alters the inevitable when we get in touch with him. (Oswald Chambers 1874-1917)

God is never in a panic! What a comforting thought. Unfortunately, I am no stranger to panic! So often, when my circumstances aren’t what I would like for them to be or if there are just too many “what if’s”, panic sneaks up on me and enters my heart and mind. Before I know it, panic has unpacked its bags, as if it’s planning to stay for a while. In those times, I begin to ask questions: “What will I do?, How will I work that out? How can I possible solve that problem or fix that situation?” When there is not enough money, I panic. When my kids are making bad decisions, I panic. When things just don’t go my way, I panic. Yet God does not panic and neither should we. If we put our trust in The Lord, panic should be a stranger to us.

God’s word is full of promises of comfort. The psalmist tells us to, “Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” (Psalm 55:22, NLT) God says through the prophet Isaiah, “‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ (Isaiah 41:10, NASB) In Romans, Paul encourages us with these words, “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.” (Romans 8:28, NIV) As we seek God and nourish our hearts and minds by reading His Word we discover that there is no need to panic. God is in control and He is taking care of the details. All we have to do is trust Him.

What situation are you facing today that ushers panic into your heart and mind? Instead of welcoming panic, shut the door on it by choosing to believe God’s many promises in His Word.

The Path to Peace

God’s word promises us perfect peace. What a wonderful promise! I’m sure we would all enjoy a little peace! But his promise comes with some small print. God’s Peace is contingent on our focus. We must remain focused on God in order to enjoy peace. When we begin to focus on our circumstances, peace is likely to fade. In order to enjoy God’s peace, we must make a conscious decision to choose to focus on Him rather than on the chaos that surrounds us. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done. Just this week I have had a number of experiences that via for my attention and emotions. Each one, a problem or situation that needs immediate attention. It is so easy to become fixated on these issues and allow them to captivate my mind. When I choose to focus on them, my breathing constricts and I can feel my blood pressure rise, I become tense and unsettled. As I live in turmoil, God patiently stands beside me offering me the gift of his peace. When I focus on God, knowing he is all powerful and that he loves me, I can rest assured that he is working for my good in all circumstances. It seems silly that I would rather worry than actually discipline myself to take my thoughts captive and focus on the Lord, yet that is how many of us choose to live.

Isaiah says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. ” (Isaiah 26:3, NASB) In Proverbs we are reminded, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6, )

The walk of faith tells us that God is on our side. He will bring good out of all circumstances that happen in the lives of those who love him. Coupled with logic that tells us it is better to peacefully trust God rather than live in anguish, it is surprising that we don’t all choose to focus on God and enjoy his gift of peace.

What anxiety do you have today that could be resolved by simply shifting your focus? Why not choose to focus on God and enjoy his peace?