Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Glorify God in Distress

Taking a walk along a beautiful mountainous area, you suddenly notice an irritating sensation in your left shoe. You try to ignore it but the feeling grows stronger. With every step, your foot begins to hurt until you just can’t go any further. You find a stump to sit on and take off your shoe. You discover a tiny pebble that’s been the source of your annoyance for the last 50 yards. How could such a small object be so irritating?

Or how about when you were driving to the grocery store and suddenly you felt a pain in your eye. It becomes so annoying that you can’t hold your eye open to drive any further so you pull over. Looking in the rearview mirror you see an eyelash in your eye. Once it’s out, you’re back on your way to the store. How could that tiny hair-like thing be so annoying?

Life’s irritations are as prevalent as mud during a rainy winter. You step in it as you’re walking into work. You discover it all over your carpet after you’ve returned home and gone upstairs to change your clothes. Your dogs splash in it when you let them out to potty. It’s always there and it becomes more bothersome by the minute, by the hour, by the day, month, or even a year. Your frustration grows and grows until you’re ready to kick and scream. What do you do with that aggravation?

The answer to irritants is thanksgiving. What? Say that again. Thanksgiving? I’m not thankful for problems. I’m not thankful that nothing seems to go right at work. I’m not thankful that my business is going under. I’m not thankful that I missed a step, causing me to fall and sprain my ankle. I’m not thankful that the housing market has slowed, making it impossible for me to buy my dream home. I’m not thankful that I don’t have enough money to pay my bills. I’m not thankful that a family member has cancer or that another family member has died. I’m not thankful that my child has made poor choices and now our lives are torn apart. I’m not thankful that one of my children is so selfish that he doesn’t seem to care about the family who raised him and gave him his name. “Really, God! You want me to be thankful!” I cry out.

“That’s right, my child!” He replies. “It’s all for My glory. When you’re focused on Me and what I’m doing in this world, your response to your own needs will shine My light for others to see My glory.”

WOW! When we realize the significance of our reactions to problems, we may feel very petty, expecially if someone has seen or heard our negative response. Or we may feel a sense of honor if we chose to glorify God’s name in our pain.

Have you had a chance to glorify the name of the Lord? You are His child and His reputation rests upon your shoulders. Have you suffered in His Name or have you been self-absorbed? You are part of the family of God and you must represent the family well. If God can’t rely on you to deal with the irritants in your life by glorifying His Name, how can He trust you with the mountains that He has planned for your future?

God’s servant, Paul, had many irritants in His life. Some were small and others were enormous. But in all things He gave glory to God, bringing honor to His Name. Read below how Paul’s life was all about Jesus.

Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel... Philippians 1:12-27 (NIV)

Is your life all about Jesus or yourself? Do others see God working in your life through your pain or do they hear your complaints? Does the light of Christ shine from your heart for others to see the way to salvation or have your actions darkened the path to His glory? Take a step back and consider your life and its aggravations. How have you handled them?

Now remember Christ and reflect on His life. How did He handle life’s daily challenges? John 5:30 tells us from Jesus’ own words, “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” Those are “big shoes to fill” but we can do it with God’s help. Paul tell us so in Philippians 4:13 (NIV)...I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

Paul survived life’s distresses because Christ gave him strength. He’ll do the same for you. Your are part of God’s family. He is there to support you; He can be trusted. Rely on Him. The Christian family depends on you.

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