“We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…and those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.” ~Romans 8:28-30
Tough times are frustrating, often painful and heartbreaking. It’s not that God stops bad things from happening, although He certainly can. The amazing thing about God is, even when the bad things do happen, God, mighty as He is, uses the bad circumstances to do some good in our lives. For instance, someone’s house might be foreclosed. They have to leave, and move back in with their parents; they’ve been feuding with their parents for the past decade, but now the close proximity forces them to communicate, and ultimately, forges a truce between them. That’s the kind of God we serve -the loss of something (the house) can lead to the gain of so much more (getting one’s family back). All we have to do is let God in to work in our lives, and even the bad things will benefit us in some way.
I’ve been thinking a lot today about a story I read, of a hunter and a bear. The hunter is walking through the woods and sees a bear caught in a trap. For some reason, he takes pity on the bear and tries to free him. But the bear is still quite capable of killing him, so first he has to tranquilize him. So he does that and gets closer to the trap, only to find that to set the bear free, first he has to push his leg further into the trap in order to loosen the mechanism. This will hurt the bear, but it’s the only way to free him, so the hunter does it anyway and the bear is free. However, from the bear’s point of view, he’s been trapped, shot with a tranquilizer, drugged, and hurt. Then suddenly he’s free to get on with his life.
Most of the time, we have the viewpoint of the bear. We can feel the pain, and we can feel we’re trapped, but we can’t see what needs to happen to help us. God gets a broader view. He sees us trapped, and like the hunter who sees the bear, he has compassion for us. He works to get us out of the trap, and unlike us, He can see directly into our hearts to know how to free us. And because He’s God, not only does He get us out of the trap, but He uses the trap to our benefit.
So, God works things out for our own good. It’s a simple truth, but a complex thing to grasp. After all, not everything in the world is good. There are bad things that happen to good people; people go through tough times. And we can have a tendency to question God on that, saying “If you really loved me, Jesus, how could you let this happen?” Don’t worry. Jesus does love you. Infinitely. It just so happens that the biggest benefit He can give us is spiritual growth, and more of Him in our lives. To get more of Him, we have to ask for more of Him. But, if things are great all the time, if we don’t go through heartbreak and tough days, we start to think we can do this life thing on our own. We start to rely on ourselves, and not on him. For most of us, it’s not a natural instinct to be dependent; we want to do it on our own, in our own way, and as long as the status quo doesn’t change we think we can.
It’s the times when I can’t do things on my own, when I need God’s help, that I ask and pray the hardest. Yup, I’m admitting it. He has never failed to answer my prayers. But because I’m a particularly stubborn person, it takes some pretty tough things to get me to admit that I can’t do it without my Savior. I think the same is true for all of us. Luckily for us, when we do ask the hardest, He can move the most.
Maybe you’re like me, and have straddled between Christian and not-so-Christian activities, and God uses something tough (in my case 2 days ago, rejection) to test your faith. Other times, He might already know your faith is true; he might be calling you to a new level of walking with Him, and the trials you go through might very well be a training ground for the next steps of your life. Regardless, if you can make it through, there will be a level of freedom, peace, strength, and grace on the other side that you never dreamed possible.
If the hunter hadn’t helped the bear, he wouldn’t have been shot or drugged, and his leg wouldn’t have hurt quite as much…but he’d still be stuck in one place. God doesn’t want us stuck in one place; He wants us moving forward in Him all the time, and constantly seeking more of Him. So, He frees us from our own traps. Yes, sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it hurts a lot. Sometimes it even hurts for a long period of time. But in the end, we become freed. And as the passage tells us, we don’t just become free; we become glorified.
So today I invite you all to worship this God we serve, and instead of cursing at the rough stuff, give Him thanks; for when He is walking with us, even the most dismal events of our lives can be used for our benefit. And if you are going through a tough time, and need some extra prayer, let us know! We would love to pray for you as you journey through it. God bless!