Tuesday, September 9, 2014

3 Things To Do When Circumstances Get Tough

From the moment I surrendered to the ministry as a college junior, the only thing I ever wanted to do was serve the Lord. Coming to grips with my "giftedness," I learned experientially that I was best suited for the pastorate. Nevertheless, this journey has taken me into some directions that I had not pursued or even considered. I have been a seminary professor, interim pastor, and Academic Dean of a seminary. I have also spent considerable time as a writer with four books and numerous articles. 

When I look back on the paths that Fern and I have taken, it might be easy to point fingers and blame circumstances, certain antagonists, or even the devil for some of the events we have had to endure. Yet, when the dust settles, I have to conclude that all things have been permitted by God, and ultimately our lives are in His hands. And instead of complaining wisdom dictates that we be thankful because only God knows what He is doing. Some of the things that I might want to complain about the loudest, may be the very tool He is using to prepare us for the greatest part of our journey.

When I look at Moses, I see a man who easily could have gotten bitter over the circumstances he endured. Forty years as a shepherd in the wilderness was certainly a contrast to where he spent the first four decades of his life. Yet, what seemed like a wasted existence turned out to be preparation for his greatest work. The same can be said of Joseph. The worst of circumstances proved to be the setting of an incredible feat of preserving life. Did Joseph not tell his brothers that "what men meant for evil, God meant for good?"

So where does that leave us and what markers can we put down? 

1. Before blaming God for bad circumstances, consider that this might be preparation for your greatest work. 
2. Look for God's leading in the midst of those circumstances. 
3. Realize that God is not through with you on this earth until you step into eternity.

One of the great Christian leaders in American history was Jonathan Edwards. After 24 years as Senior Pastor of the Congregational Church at Northampton, he was fired. What happened next was intriguing. He accepted a position at Stockbridge, an insignificant position by comparison to his former work. Yet, what appeared to be a great misfortune and injustice proved to be one of the greatest blessings to subsequent generations. It was at Stockbridge that Edwards penned some of his greatest works. If he had not had circumstances unfold as they did, we might never have captured some of the great insights from this great man of God.

Let me encourage you to let God be God in your life. If He cares enough about us to give us His Son, Jesus, certainly He cares enough about you to be in ultimate control of your life. So, I challenge you to trust Him when you are tempted to doubt, complain, or point fingers of blame. Fix your eyes on Jesus and trust that He still has work for you to accomplish.