We ended the previous post with the thought that God causes things to serve a greater and an eternal purpose. And that leads to the fifth type of bad thing. This is the type of thing that is allowed into a life to bring one to faith in the Lord or to increase one's faith in him.
C.S. Lewis once wrote, "God whispers to us in our pleasures . . . but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." The Samaritan's Purse ministry reports of a man who had been bedbound by depression coming out of it when a tornado hit his home town and he volunteered to help his neighbors clean up and rebuild. Losing one's home to a tornado is definitely a bad thing, but God used it for good in that man's life; and the man acknowledges such and is thankful.
Sometimes, the only way our stubborn minds will open up to the wooing of the Lord is for us to suffer a loss so great that we come to the end of ourselves. A dear friend of mine, now living in heaven, was such a one. She had what she thought was an ideal life, having "run away to join the circus," and becoming one of the first to perform a two-and-a-half on the trapeze.
But while practicing that two-and-a-half, she missed the catch and plummeted to the net; she knew how to land, but, for some reason, didn't tuck her neck that time. She landed on her head and became quadriplegic. She went through a tough recovery and spent the next three years adjusting to her disability and attempting suicide.
After her last suicide attempt was thwarted, she finally called out for help—from God. He gave her a sign—moving her hand a certain way that she had not been able to before; and, although she remained quadriplegic, she accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior. She rejoiced that she had gained a "new ringmaster" to direct her. She used to quip that she had been "sentenced to the electric chair for life"; but she truly believed that salvation and her relationship with the Lord was worth giving up the fame and fun of circus life. God used the bad thing for good.
For her, as for any of us, whatever we must face in order to "get right with God" is worth it. He enriches our lives now and guarantees our eternal life with him after death. He is always working to save and to bless whosoever will believe in him.
Sometimes a believer will start to go the wrong way, forgetting God and his word, and will walk in either willful rebellion or unintentional disobedience. In my late teens, I was such a person. In cases like this, the Lord will use trials and bad things to get our attention and cause us to return to fellowship with him. "Before I was afflicted, I went astray," says Psalm 119:67. These bad things are the discipline of God bringing us back to him, just like good parents will discipline their children—for the child's own good.
And who has never gone astray? King David admitted to it; the prophet Isaiah makes it universal ("All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all"—Isaiah 53:6.) The apostle Paul seconds this with his statement in Romans 3:23: "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." So God allows the bad things to come so that we will turn to him, and, in so turning, find grace, love, hope, peace, joy, and abundant and eternal life—the very things my friend Vickie found.*
God's purpose in this kind of bad thing is to prove to us that he is able to deliver, sustain, rescue, and bless us, that his love for us is sure, steadfast, and enduring, and that he is a worthy and wonderful companion with whom we have the privilege of entering into a covenant relationship. In this covenant relationship, he is the stronger and we are the weaker; he is the protector and we are the protected; he is the one who works all things "after the counsel of his own will" (Ephesians 1:11), together for our good (Romans 8:28), and we are "his workmanship [poem], created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Ephesians 2:10).
He is the potter and we are the clay. More on this next time, as well as some thoughts from a discussion thread posted on a LinkedIn group.
* Click here for Vickie's book about her experience and journey to God: Surprised by Hope.
Click here for Vickie's collection of poems celebrating life: On Wings of Joy. You may also order the poetry book from Ampelos Press. Click here and scroll down the page for the title.
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