2 Corinthians 4:8-10
“8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”
Trials and tribulations are nothing new to God’s people. Just read through the Bible and you will soon discover that it is filled with stories of difficulty and distress. The Hebrew children had their fiery furnace, Daniel had his den of lions and Joseph faced the pain of both the pit and prison on his way to the palace. Paul was shipwrecked and beaten and Peter was sent to prison. John was exiled at Patmos while James was beheaded. David fled from Saul while Samson had his eyes put out and that is just to name a few. As Psalm 34:19 says: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” What we need to remember is that Jesus didn’t promise us security from the storms He promised us security in the storms. While He never promised us an easy passage, He did guarantee a safe landing. What we view as a problem God can turn into a present, because only God can bring blessings out of our burdens. One of the profitable ways that God can use our pain is to:
Sometimes God uses difficulties to direct our lives. Sometimes He has to light a fire under us to get us to move. Problems can point us in a new direction and motivate us to change. Proverbs 20:30 says, “Physical punishment cleanses away evil; such discipline purifies the heart.” Sometimes we need pain in order to take a different path. We may not like the pain but without it we would be stuck wandering the same dead end streets. After we have gone through tough times we tend to worry less about what the world thinks, and our appetite for sin seems to lose its taste. You see problems can actually serve to plow our pride under. Yes God could have kept Daniel out of the lions’ den, Paul and Silas out of jail, and shadrach meshach and abednego out of the fiery furnace, but there were benefits and blessings in these burdens. Is God trying to get your attention? Is it possible that He wants to use difficulty to direct your life? Not only can God use problems to direct but also to:
People are a lot like tea bags, if you want to know what’s inside then just drop them in hot water! Challenges reveal our character and even though we don’t like pain it has a way of revealing where we are really at. What about you has God ever tested your faith with a problem? 1 Peter 1:6-7 “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” There is a story told about a young woman who went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose. Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about twenty minute she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee into a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see?” “Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied. She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What’s the point, mother?” Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity… boiling water – but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after being through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water. “Which are you?” she asked the daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?” Are you the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity wilts and becomes soft and loses its strength? Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after death, a breakup, a financial hardship, or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water got hot the bean releases what was inside it, bringing flavor and fragrance to its circumstances. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity? “When it rains it pours. Maybe the art of life is to convert tough times to great experiences: we can choose to hate the rain or dance in it” Joan Marques. So what does the heat reveal about your heart?