Have you ever found yourself waiting for the other shoe to drop? If not, count yourself blessed. If you have, count yourself blessed anyway. No, I mean it. Do you know how many scriptures there are pointing to the ways God uses problems and pains in our lives to make us more like Him? To better equip us for the purpose He has for us?
We live in a sin filled world. We live with sinful people, just like they live with us. Because sin runs rampant all around us, bad things happen. Because the world is not the perfect garden God originally created for us, bad things happen. Hard things happen too. Unfair things happen. Things we can’t even begin understand happen all the time. It’s simply a fact of life on earth.
But our merciful, loving Father chooses to use those things. When we let Him do His work, God redeems those horrible things. The pain and confusion may not subside. We may not ever even understand the whys, but God will use those situations in our lives.
Temperance Tucker from A Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz understands hard times. Life would be full of trials for anyone living in unsettled Kentucky in the late 1700s, but Tempe has been dealt a pretty bad hand. Her father is on the run after killing a man leaving her, her mother, her brother, and Paige to run the Moonbow Inn by themselves. Her fiancé has been killed, and Tempe struggles to find reason not to join him in death. War with England has stretched the already strained relationship between colonists and Native Americans. Danger lurks everywhere Temp turns. It couldn’t get any worse for Tempe, but then it does at the whim of her own father. He sends her to act as scout for a group of surveyors. A woman alone with a group of strange men in hostile territory. If she manages to live through the adventure, will she be able to salvage her reputation? Will she be able to forgive her father for making this demand of her? Though the author doesn’t put it this way, Tempe must learn to embrace the lesson of Joseph.
Joseph knew about hardship. He went from favored son to hated brother to slave to prisoner to pharaoh’s right hand man to the means of salvation for his people from drought. Unjustly sold into slavery. Unjustly accused of trying to rape his owner’s wife. Left to rot in a jail cell. A lot was done to Joseph that wasn’t only out of his control, it was unfair and cruel. Just one of the things that happened to him would cause some people to throw in the towel. But not Joseph. At the end of it all, Joseph was able to look at everything that happened to him and say, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”(Genesis 50:20) Our own situations may not preserve life for a nation, but we can still adjust our attitudes and be able to say God used each situation for good in our lives.
By the Book: Adopting the attitude that sees everything in our lives as something God can use for good is not easy. It doesn’t change the situations. It doesn’t erase the pain. But it can change the way we pray during and handle those times. Read the story of Joseph in Genesis and Philippians 4. Ask God to use the negative situations you face to bring about something good, and ask Him to help you keep a godly attitude while you are going through it.