God gave Paul a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble and to teach him valuable truths that he would never otherwise have learned. When Paul accepted this hardship, God used it in powerful ways. God also allows trials to come into our lives to stretch our faith, to deepen our love for Him, and to make us more cognizant of the needs of others. Are you allowing this process to take place in your life?
Joseph and Mary would never have planned for their lives to turn out the way they did. They wouldn’t have chosen all the hardship, criticism and inconvenience that the birth of this Baby brought into their lives. Yet they willingly accepted God’s plan because they surrendered their future to Him. Becoming a follower of Christ means that your future is not your own. Are you willing to accept whatever that may bring for His glory?
As you go through the mundane events of your daily life, are you aware that the providence of God is at work in you and around you in every circumstance, encounter and decision? God is working for you, or in spite of you, to bring about His ultimate will so that He may be glorified, and so that you will be conformed into the image of His Son. You can find rest in knowing that regardless of what you are going through, God is in control of it all.
It’s easy to “say” we would follow God anywhere, but it’s a whole different story when He actually calls us to step out into the complete unknown and follow Him by faith without having a clue how things are going to turn out. Doing so requires us to relinquish control of our lives and trust that whatever God brings about is ultimately best. Are you willing to trust God that way?
In a world of more than 7 billion people, it is easy to feel that your life has no significance to God. But as we look through the Bible, we do not see God using hundreds or thousands of people to bring about His plans. Instead, we see Him using individual men and women. God is still looking for just one willing person to stand up and say, “God, I choose to be identified with you. Please use my life for your glory.” Will you be that one?
What do you do when you’re living for God, but your life is still filled with hardship, yet evil people are prospering everywhere you look, and it seems like nothing bad ever happens to them? Even though it may feel like God has forgotten you, He has not. Even though it seems at times like evil will triumph, always remember that God is at work behind the scenes, and one day, He will make all things right.
King Ahasuerus was once the most powerful man on earth. He threw a party for six months to proudly display the vastness of his kingdom and wealth. But where is this great man now? He is dead and gone. Yet 2,500 years later, our God still sits enthroned in heaven, unmoved and unshaken by all the so-called great leaders who have come and gone. Don’t be impressed by earthly power. Put your trust in God alone!
Do you trust God? The real answer to that question is found, not in what you say, but in how much of your life you are still trying to control. This is actually a symptom of pride, because you are telling God you can handle things without Him. God asks us to place our lives under His control, and trust in His wisdom instead of our own. When we do, we will begin living the way He designed us to live, and we will be the recipients of His promised care.
It is often hard to see beyond the struggles and heartaches of this life to imagine that anything good could actually be at work in them behind the scenes. Why would God allow these things to happen if I’m honestly trying to follow Him, and how can I find any hope in the midst of such deep sorrow? Take heart, God is in control, and you truly can find hope when life hurts!
Human reasoning would have us believe that if God really loved us, He would protect us from all pain, heartache and suffering. It is vital, then, that we do not face the hardships of life with human reasoning, but rather, with the mind of Christ. What attitude did Christ have when He endured all the physical and emotional suffering that came His way, and what can we learn by having that same attitude?
No one likes to suffer. We don’t even like minor inconveniences. But the Bible makes it clear that suffering is part of God’s plan for the Christian life. So the real question is, how will you respond to suffering when it does come? Peter gives us a blueprint to follow and shows us that there are actually some surprising benefits that can come from our moments of suffering.
Let’s face it, life can sometimes be very hard. Suffering and pain can leave us wondering whether God really cares about us at all. Surely if He loved us, He would never let this happen! So how do we navigate our way through trials? How do we make sense of suffering? Today’s message provides some truths that will be anchors for you the next time the storms of life blow your way.