If your life is easy, maybe Satan doesn’t consider you a threat anymore.

I used to think of suffering as a bad thing. I used to think of hardship, difficulty, and adversity as a consequence from God for something bad I’ve done.  A punishment.  Through the years, I’ve learned that’s dangerous thinking. God doesn’t motivate with fear, he motivates with love.

God can take my pain and turn it into power. He can take my trials and train me with it. He can take my adversity and turn it into an attack against evil.  Here’s what the Bible says:

James 1:2-4 (NIV) 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Maybe he’s training me.  Maybe he’s preparing me for a bigger battle.  In fact, maybe I’m facing these “trials” because I’m right on the edge of where God wants me to be. After all, the fighting isn’t near as intense when you’re not on the “front lines”. Maybe God is maturing me.  Better yet, maybe this isn’t about a “me-and-God” story at all. Maybe God is doing something amazing in someone else and he’s asked me to play a role in that story.

Acts 5:40-42 (NIV) 40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

Maybe I should rejoice because God considers me “worthy” of suffering (like he did). Maybe my suffering can advance his cause.  Maybe it’s my opportunity to turn from apathetic to advocate. After all, consider how many  organizations were started by someone who endured tremendous persecution and turned it into a cause for the good of humanity:

1980. Candy Lightner founded MADD after her daughter, Cari, was killed by a repeat drunk driving offender. Cindy Lamb—whose daughter, Laura, became the nation’s youngest quadriplegic at the hands of a drunk driver—soon joined Candy in her crusade to save lives. Since then, MADD has started chapters in every state, passed legislation to raise the drinking age in several states, toughened penalties for drunk drivers nationwide, and create anti-drinking & driving awareness nationwide. In short, it has sparked a movement that has helped save hundreds of thousands of lives.

1981. John Walsh’s son Adam was abducted from a Sears department store at the Hollywood Mall in Hollywood, Florida on July 27, 1981 and later found murdered. Adam’s death earned national publicity, and Adam’s father, John would become an advocate for victims’ rights and helped to spur the formation of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). As a result of his advocacy, he was approached to host the TV program America’s Most Wanted.  The Code Adam program for helping lost children in department stores is named in Walsh’s memory.  Later, the U.S. Congress passed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act on July 25,2006, and President Bush signed it into law on July 27, 2006. This bill creates a nationwide database for child molestors, and toughens penalties for sexual and violent offenses against children.

1996. When Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old child who was abducted and murdered in Arlington, TX, her parents Richard Hagerman and Donna Whitson helped to champion legislation that would coordinate efforts of National Broadcasting organizations. Their efforts helped spawn the AMBER Alert: “America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response”. Radio & Television alerts, along with Outdoor Billboards, Public PA systems, wireless SMS messages and more!  Result:  8 yr old  Rae Leigh (picture)

Howard Thurman said,  “Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

What are some of the trials you face?

How can you turn something bad into something good?

Has this helped change your perspective?

 

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