The last book of my devotion trilogy, Facing Adversity: Thoughts of Wisdom, Praise, & Promise, is now available on Amazon. Here is an excerpt from a devotion titled SUFFERING UNITES US ALL
“God has a plan and a purpose for everyone. Nobody is insignificant. We are, after all, created in the very image of God. This includes the homeless person living in a cardboard box and the abused child in a home of neglect. We all have a part to play in God’s divine design, and sharing in the sufferings of Christ is part of His game plan.
Suffering is an effective tool God uses to refine our spiritual character. Adversity is permitted, or sent, as a loving gift from heaven above. Perspective is critical here. God gives good gifts therefore trials are beneficial.
￼So how can our painful moments be of any use? How can something hurtful, shameful, or grievous actually be a blessing? Do not trials teach us valuable lessons? Do we not gain insight, knowledge and wisdom as we muddle through our adversity? Is this not something we can share with others? Healing and lessons of perseverance are not only a witness of God’s grace but also an encouragement to others.
The process of sanctification chips away self-reliance and causes even the most prideful of mankind to cry out for help, help that only God can provide. Learning to depend on the Father is a major lesson in our spiritual walk. When we trust Him with all things and remain peaceful in the midst of an uncertain fate, faith has carried us. Others will notice our manner and desire the same inner peace we exude. Life style witnessing is a powerful tool and useful in the work of the Great Commission.
Suffering unites us all. Each person has experienced pain. Therefore, we can compassionately connect with others through this common bond. No race, creed, social status or level of education can escape the reality of suffering. Because of this fact we have an open door, a first step in sharing the Good News. We can build relationships in many different ways and there is a fellowship of suffering, with Christ Jesus and with others.
Here then is the great blessing found in adversity. Because of the pain you endured, thanks to the grace of God, you are now equipped to encourage and bless others. Your victory over tribulation will give them hope.”
When a trial comes your way, do you groan and think of it as an ordeal to muddle through? Is your first reaction fear and dread, or do you see each new struggle with more positive eyes? The love of Jesus can shed light on your difficulties and bring about a change in your perspective. Trials are actually opportunities chock full of hidden blessings.
“Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.” – Anonymous
Consider the story of Joseph. He was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery. He was forced to live in a foreign land without family.
“Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority.” Genesis 39:1-4 (NKJV)
One might think Joseph had suffered enough by this time and that God would continue to bless him in the home of Potiphar. Maybe Joseph was content with his position as his master’s overseer. But God had bigger plans for Joseph, a bigger house for him to oversee, so He continued to test and refine him.
Joseph caught the eye of Potiphar’s wife, who aggressively pursued him and asked for sexual favors. Unwilling to lie with her, he ran from temptation. Because of Joseph’s righteousness and unwillingness to sin, he found himself in the middle of a new trial. Although He had been kidnapped, made to live as a slave in a foreign land, was absent from all family support, he was sent to prison …. But the Lord’s favor followed him.
“So it was, when his master heard the words which his wife spoke to him, saying, ‘Your servant did to me after this manner,’ that his anger was aroused. Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison.
But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority,because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.” Genesis 39:19-23 (NKJV)
So once again Joseph found himself in a position of leadership and authority with responsibilities he never asked for or expected. God was using difficult circumstances to sharpen the spiritual gifts within Joseph. Leadership requires the ability to gain the trust of others. Adversity will try to rob us of our hope but Joseph persevered. He gained wisdom from living through his struggles, and because of his perseverance and faith, he later became a man many would follow and respect.
After some time in prison, Pharaoh called Joseph to his throne room to interpret a troublesome dream. The Lord provided Joseph with insight and was given the Pharaoh’s favor. After years of slavery and prison life, Joseph was given the unexpected honor of overseeing the Pharaoh’s entire house. He was only 30 years old.
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Genesis 41:39-40 (NKJV)
The Pharaoh’s dream spoke of 7 years of feast and 7 years of famine. Joseph was placed in charge of collecting grain and storing it for the lean years ahead.
Joseph married and had children. He saw how God had blessed him but there were even more blessings to come. The drought was affecting his homeland and his brothers went to Egypt seeking resources. Joseph recognized them and was able to help. God restored his family relationships and also blessed him with position, wealth, and honor.
The Word calls a man blessed, if he can remain steadfast under a trial (Js.1:12). By withstanding the test in front of him he will receive the crown of life. This crown is promised to those who love God. It is rewarded to believers who endure suffering and remain faithful to God, even to the point of death. There are eternal rewards for remaining steadfast in faith.
We do not know all the twists and turns in our spiritual journey but God does, and He has a very good plan on how to use us. Joseph did not know the reasons for all his trouble but he remained faithful. As a child, the Lord gave Joseph a hint of his future position but never any details. Through tests and much suffering, God refined Joseph into a man of integrity and faith.
Why not take your present adversity and consider it as a stepping-stone to a hidden blessing from God? It took God some time to prepare Joseph for his position. Your refinement will take time too. Have faith in your Lord. There are blessings in each day and in your future. Above all, glorify God in good times and bad times, just like Joseph.
“I can do all things through Christ[ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you willhave tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NKJV)
“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 (NKJV)
“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10 (NKJV)
“The remarkable thing is, we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.” ~ Chuck Swindoll
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10 (NKJV)
“The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” Proverbs 29:25 (NKJV)
“Fear imprisons, faith liberates; fear paralyzes, faith empowers; fear disheartens, faith encourages; fear sickens, faith heals; fear makes useless, faith makes serviceable.” ~ Harry Emerson Fosdick http://christian-quotes.ochristian.com/Fear-Quotes/page-2.shtml
Fear is tied to faith. The amount of fear you hold in your heart is equal to the amount of faith you have in God. Faith and fear are at war in most believers, so you are not alone in your struggle to trust God with all things.
Challenges that appear impossible to conquer eventually mature into doubts. Doubt gives birth to fear. Fears attack our hopes and dreams, the well being of our loved ones, our own health and safety, as well as our work for Christ. When we doubt the power of God and give in to our fears we doubt the Creator of the universe.
Fears imprison believers and yet, God sent His son Jesus to set all captives free. Faith liberates and heals those who have been paralyzed by its deceptive powers. Faith provides clear vision for those who cast aside their doubts. The clear vision being…. God will provide and make all things work together for good.
Not understanding why affliction enters our lives has caused many to struggle with their faith. If we knew all the reasons and had the answers to all of our questions, we wouldn’t need faith. God wants His children to depend on Him. We are not to work through our struggles with our own strength. Rather, we are to move through our storms with the strength God provides.
Fear of man is a snare, a trap that will always hinder our growth and maturity in Christ. The enemy hates it when ….
To read the rest of this devotion please go to http://facingtrials.com