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TRANSFORMED BY TROUBLE

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Cor. 4:17 (NIV)

It is the fire of suffering that brings forth the gold of godliness. – Madame Guyon

God has a purpose behind every problem. He uses circumstances to develop our character. In fact, he depends more on circumstances to make us like Jesus than he depends on our reading the Bible. The reason is obvious: you face circumstances twenty-four hours a day.

Jesus warned us that we would have problems in the world (John 16:33). No one is immune to pain or insulated from suffering, and no one gets to skate through life problem-free. Life is a series of problems. Every time you solve one, another is waiting to take its place. Not all of them are big, but all are significant in God’s growth process for you. Peter assures us that problems are normal, saying “Don’t be bewildered or surprised when you go through the fiery trials ahead, for this is no strange, unusual thing that is going to happen to you.” (1 Peter 4:12).     God uses problems to draw you closer to himself. The Bible says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit.” (Ps 34:18). Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days-when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when you’re out of options, when the pains is great and you turn to God alone. It is during suffering that we learn to pray our most authentic, heartfelt, and honest to God prayers. When we’re in pain, we don’t have the energy for superficial prayers.

Joni Eareckson Tada notes, “when life is rosy, we may slide by with knowing about Jesus, with imitating him and quoting him and speaking of him. But only in suffering will we know Jesus.” We learn things about God in suffering that we can’t learn any other way. God could have kept Joseph out of jail, kept Daniel out of the lion’s den, kept Jeremiah from being tossed into a slimy pit, kept Paul from being shipwrecked three times, and kept the three Hebrew young men from being thrown into the blazing furnace but He didn’t. He let those problems happen, and every one of those persons was drawn closer to God as a result. Problems force us to look to God and depend on him instead of ourselves. Paul testified to this benefit: “we felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves, but that was good, for then we put everything into the hand of God, who alone could save us.” (2Cor. 1:9) You’ll never know that God is all you need until God is all you’ve got.

Regardless of the cause, none of your problems could happen without God’s permission. Everything that happens to a child of God is Father-filtered, and he intends to use it for good even when Satan and others mean it for bad. Because God is sovereignly in control, accidents are just incidents in God’s good plan for you. Because every day of your life was written on God’s calendar before you were born.

Everything that happens to you has spiritual significant. Everything! Romans 8:28-29 explains why: “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like His son.”

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