Thursday, November 6, 2008

When Things Go Wrong

Relatively minor frustrations have probably had a hand in more nervous breakdowns than have great tragedies. It's amazing how furious people can get over traffic delays, interrupted television broadcasts, and grocery stores that run out of tomatoes--amazing because most of those same people, if asked in their more rational moments just how important such things are, would quickly admit "Not very." The frustration issue of any given moment is actually only a surface manifestation of humanity's deeper problem: every one of us considers him- or herself so important that the universe owes it to us to ensure every little thing goes according to our plans.

That's the real answer to the common wail, "What did I ever do to deserve this?" God rarely sends our problems to punish us for specific sins--but He does use frustrations and hard times to beat lingering bad attitudes out of us, to scrub us clean of deep-rooted pride, to point up whatever rival "gods" we are clinging to. No living person ever reaches such perfect spiritual condition as to be beyond need of further polishing. Even Christ, Who had the unique distinction of being free of real sin, "learned obedience from what he suffered and [thus was] made perfect" (Heb. 5:8-9, NIV).

The next time you have "one of those days," don't go back to bed. Ask God what He wants to teach you.

When things go wrong--as they often do--
When it seems that the world has it in for you,
When each road you try hits a new dead end,
And fresh troubles greet you around each bend,
You may think you happened to greatly err,
And an angry God has shut out your prayer--
But, more likely, He has another goal
For the pains and troubles that plague your soul.

No human heart, in its mortal days,
Ever yields completely to God's pure ways;
There is always some small competing love
Vying for your heart with the One above;
Yet God loves you just as you are, but He
Cares so much He wishes to set you free
From all other "lords" that, however right
In themselves, will hamper your pure delight.

And He knows, too, that a life of ease
Rarely will give birth to the purest peace,
And if you were granted your every whim,
You would never fully depend on Him,
And your satisfaction would shallow be:
So when you are tempted to groan, "Why me?,"
Stop and ask your Lord what He plans for you,
And give Him your thanks for what He will do.

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