It's really something when you stop and
think of all the things the LORD allows in your life and consider that He allows them for
a purpose---or for many purposes. Perhaps sometimes we know or see the purposes and
sometimes we may feel as though there is no purpose or no good thing that could come from
some of the trials we face. If we allow ourselves to think there is purpose or no good
thing that could come of a situation, we are denying God's work or will in our lives and
we contradict the very Word which says that: "All things [read: ALL THINGS]
work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His
purpose." (Romans 8.28) See? *all things* according to *His* purpose.
I grieve over the many times I have rejected God's plans and have said:
"Nothing could have prepared me for this..." and that's what I want to share
with you today.
Have you ever felt that way or uttered the words, "Nothing
could have prepared me for this!"? O, my, I sure have... In the midst of trials or
grief or struggles I have felt that the very life was being squeezed out of me and I felt
as though I could not go on, but as I've begun to look at trials differently, I'm seeing
more and more that God not only works good and that anything He allows to happen in my
life He is allowing for a very good reason---that nothing takes Him by surprise and
nothing escapes His gaze. Even the times I make foolish decisions or say stupid things or
am careless, I know that, as I'm yielded to Him, He will use even those things for good
and He will cover even my foolish or sinful behavior and as I'm yielded to Him, He will
use these circumstances or events to bring glory to Himself. When I trust Him that He is
working all things together for good---for my good---for the good of those around me, then
I can trust that what I feel unprepared to endure, is really something He's been preparing
me to experience. It is His "going before," as I like to say, that prepares me
and it is the combination of previous events and experiences that help me trust Him and
help me to be still and wait on Him. Praise be to God who goes before us.
There've been many times in my life that I felt totally
overwhelmed by the circumstances in which I found myself. O---not only overwhelmed, but
unthankful, too. You see, I wasn't thankful in what was happening. It was hard to be
thankful for hard times, unemployment, loss of loved ones, financial adversities, illness,
a rebellious teenager, disagreeable parents, hurtful comments of others, and dozens of
other things. It wasn't that I was seeking to be disobedient to Scripture, and I wasn't
really seeking to be unhappy or even unthankful, but I allowed my initial reaction to
situations to dictate my thinking instead of filtering my reactions through Bible Truths.
I felt as though my walk with the LORD was sabotaged at every turn. What I didn't keep in
the forefront of my mind was that I was to take every thought captive to the obedience of
Christ (2Cor.10.5) and I also didn't keep foremost in my thoughts that while God works
everything for my good, I am to be giving thanks in everything---not *for* everything,
rather, *IN* everything.
In seeing only the temporal, we miss the eternal value... in
seeing only the physical, we miss the spiritual... in seeing only *self,* we miss
others... You see, when we have selfish thoughts, we totally miss the "all things
work[ing] together for good." Not only that, we are not in the will of God---and how
do we know this? We know this because of the clause at the end of verse 18 of
1Thessalonians 5. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus
concerning you. You see that? "...for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus
concerning you." So when we are facing a trial, when we face a situation in which we
cry out: "Nothing could have prepared me for this!" we can truly know that not
only are we to be thankful, but that God has indeed allowed this condition, that it is for
good... it is of God that all our days are ordered, and in seeing this, we can say
"nothing but everything could have prepared me for this." It is the God who goes
before us who is working all these things together for our good.
And so it is that I don't very often say or feel things in the way
I used to say or feel them. Instead of saying, "nothing could have prepared me for
this," now I have begun to say, "nothing -but everything- could have prepared me
for this." Now, this does not mean that I do not cry out to God, feel the weight of
trials, get discouraged, or feel overwhelmed: I do---all those things--- from time to
time. But you know, it is truly the grace of God that in the midst of trials I am
seeing---and you can see, too, that God truly does go before us and truly does prepare us
for each situation, each circumstance---each trial we face. We can see that He has used
other events to prepare us for the current event, other circumstances to strengthen us to
face the present. It is a choice of obedience to God---trust in Him---that allows us to
face trials and to be thankful. Colossians 3.15 "And let the peace of God rule in
your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."
When we begin to face trials, temptations, difficulties, grief,
disappointments... all of these, with the peace of God ruling our heart, we will begin
facing them with thankfulness---thankfulness that nothing but everything could have
prepared us for them. It may be a very foreign thing to be joyful in trials... in fact,
one may think it a crazy thing to give thanks for adversity---in the midst of adversity,
but it really is the will of God that we do so. "...It is the will of God in Christ
Jesus concerning you."
The next time you face a new situation which seems overwhelming or
too hard to bear---a situation that makes you fear, stop and think... think back on the
situations that the LORD has brought you through. Then, think back on the ways He worked
and then use it as an opportunity to practice joy, practice thankfulness, and allow the
peace of God to fill you---allow it to keep your mind. Philippians 4.7 And the peace of
God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ
Jesus. We may indeed acknowledge that the current condition is quite difficult... we might
even feel very weak, we may be teary and tired---but you know, we really can do so with
joy in our soul and trust in our heart.
When we begin facing trials with peace and with the understanding
that God has allowed them for our good, we begin to *anticipate* with joy what He will do.
We will begin to see life as beautiful quilt... all the pieces beautifully fitted
together, the dark pieces setting off and framing the lighter pieces, the deep colours
accenting the brighter ones, the wide sashing joining the narrow, even all the piercing of
the stitches binding each block joining one section to another...the painstaking stitching
will take on a whole new meaning. We'll appreciate God's marvelous creativity---He surely
loves us so.
When be begin to comprehend what is the depth and breadth of His
love, His care and His purposes, we can surely begin to welcome adversities and
difficulties---we know He is using them for our good, we know that He loves us, and we
know that we can trust Him. We will also continually see how that He has most assuredly
prepared us in advance for each next circumstance in which He will carry us.
Ephesians 5.20 "Giving thanks always for all things unto God
and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;"
James 1.2-4 My brethren [sisteren], count it all joy when ye fall
into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But
let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
It truly is of God that all our days are ordered, and in seeing
this, we can honestly say, "nothing but everything could have prepared me for
this...thanks be to God." Sometime soon I'll share with you a couple of ways in which
the LORD has brought this to light for me. For now, I am praying and trusting that the
LORD is with you, keeping you and carrying you through. May He bless your life and your