Yesterday, I laid out some thoughts on prayer. If you missed it scroll down one devotion and you can find it there.
We have the great privilege and joy to be able to talk God about all things…the good and the not so good. And yet, we tend to only pray when things are imploding before our eyes. We cry out for help!
One of my favorite stories (that you may have heard me tell) about tough times is this:
There was an old man who had a beautiful horse. This horse was not only his family’s pride and joy, but it was also a means to an income for the family.
One day, the horse ran away. Fellow villagers visited the old man to give their condolences for such a stroke of bad luck, as the loss of his horse represented a staggering financial blow that would be hard to recover from .“Good luck, bad luck: Who can tell?” replied the old man. “It is as it is. My horse is gone.”
Perplexed at the man’s nonchalance towards the apparent tragedy, the villagers went about their business.
A few days later, the horse returned with a pack of 12 wild horses in tow. Again, the villagers gathered, this time to offer their congratulations at such a stroke of good luck. Now he had 12 more horses with which to make 12 times the income! What a godsend, they said. “Good luck, bad luck: Who can tell?” replied the old man again. “All I see is that 12 more horses have appeared.”
The next week, while breaking in one of the wild horses, the old man’s son fell, and both his legs were broken. What bad luck! The villagers exclaimed. Your son has broken both of his legs. That’s terrible. How will you get your work done? You are too old to do it yourself. “Good luck, bad luck: Who can tell?” was the (now predictable and equally frustrating) answer of the old man. “My son has broken his legs. That is all I know.”
Shortly thereafter, the government forcibly removed all the able-bodied men from the village, as the country had gone to war. The old man’s son, however, was spared since his legs were broken. Good luck, bad luck: Who can tell?
…and on it goes. We tend to live our own lives careening from one “good luck” occurrence to another “bad luck” event? When things are going well, we’re happy and we think God’s will is a good thing. If they are going badly, we get discouraged and think that God must have abandoned us. We end up being tossed about by our circumstances.
Maybe we could stand to take a dose of medicine from the old man in this story, simply observing the events in our lives for what they are instead of drawing grandiose conclusions about the ultimate karma or fate of what has happened to us. To seek God in the midst of the so-called bad luck. To seek God’s direction and Hope as we face those things…to trust that He will walk alongside of us and bring good out of them.
The fact is that we really don’t have to worry in our circumstances, because no matter what, we have hope in Christ.“We know that in everything, God works for the good of those who love him” Romans 8:28. That’s what His good, loving , pleasing will is all about!
So, that was a fun illustration, but what about our everyday “real” life?
I had a lady come to speak with me a number of years ago. She told me her life seemed upside down. She went into work and was told that she had been downsized out of her job. She had a great job at a large bank, head of her department, and was there for 20+ years. Two banks merged and her position went to the other person. “That would be bad enough, she said, but her husband of 23 years announced, “he did not want to be married anymore!” Needless to say, her whole identity was changing in a matter of a week! We talked, she had a great faith in God watching over her and the kids. We talked about keeping her eyes open to God in the midst of the storm. We prayed and she left my office. About a month later she came back in to see me. “God is good!” she said. She announced that she got a new job. “It is better than my old job,” she said! “I thought I had a good job, so I never looked into changing jobs. Losing my job turned out to be a blessing. This new job fits me better in all ways.” She then went on to explain that she could not have handled her husband’s situation while working at the old job but with 3 weeks off, they were able to talk and deal with the best way to end the marriage.
God did not cause her to lose her job or her marriage but as promised, He brought good out of it.
We don’t always see the results that fast and obvious, but we should always trust His Word! That is a great enough story…but in talking to this lady to get her permission to use her story in this devotion, she said the blessings are still coming. A few years later, she was nudged to go on a mission trip she met a great guy on that trip they have been dating for a year now! When you trust the Lord, hang on for the ride of your life!
So, what areas of your life seem like “good luck?” Areas that you feel close to God, can feel His presence, where God’s blessings are overflowing. Do you take time to thank the Lord for each and every one of His blessings in your life? Your physical health, relationships, financial blessings, and emotional state of mind. When all is well thank the giver of all good things! James 1:17… Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Always remember that the biggest issue that you will ever face is that of sin. The fact that left on our own we are doomed to an eternity in hell. But the good news is that Jesus took care of that problem for you…on the cross. He loves you in spite of you! Take time to thank Him right now!
So, let’s get personal, what areas of your life seem like “bad luck?” Times when you don’t feel God with you. (note that the problem is on your side: He will never leave you or forsake you.) For many of you, this coronavirus situation has caused much distress in your life! Life seems upside down, confused, and gloomy. Do you turn to the Lord for strength, guidance, Hope? Like the guy in our horse story, do you look for God in good times and the bad? Do you see this down time as a smaller part of a bigger picture? Do you seek God’s Peace in the midst of the current storm? Deuteronomy 31:6… “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
With God by your side, you will get through this time. The question is, what good will He bring and what changes does He want you to make?