Cloudy With A Chance Of Pain

The City of Phoenix averages around 296 sunny days per year. If you live in Ketchikan or Seattle, 296 days may sound like Heaven.  Sun worshippers believe it is good for the soul to soak up the benefits of Vitamin D the rays provide, but we Phoenicians are a bit quirky because we actually enjoy the occasional rain and have a genuine appreciation for cloudy days. One of the greatest benefits of clouds is their presence provides an incredibly beautiful backdrop for creating the most spectacular sunsets you’re likely to see anywhere.

As in life, most people would prefer a perfect “cloudless” life without strife or conflict. But as with clouds and sunsets, life’s trials and troubles provide the perfect backdrop for developing our relationship with Christ. Were it not for the occasional crisis driving us to our knees in desperation, many Christians might not ever truly learn the “bigness” of our God.

Through our trials and struggles we come to appreciate the beauty of watching our Lord choreograph solutions to problems that are beyond our control. Without the trials we might never learn that what might be impossible for us is completely possible for our Lord. (Luke 18:27)

To live a life completely devoid of problems is a life where there is no need of God; a life where there is no personal growth and a life lived ignorant of other’s struggles … a life lived solely for us.

Just like we need cloudy days for the shade they provide and the beautiful sunsets they produce --believe it or not, we need the trials and struggles of life to push us towards our Savior. 

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 (NLT)

Kathy Kurlin
loveSTRONG ministries

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Grace Grower

I attended a local Bible college for two years in my early twenties to complete my degree. While there we were required to attend a chapel service every Wednesday. I don't remember very many of the sermons we heard but I do remember this one.

The speaker asked us to think about that person that I now like to refer to as a "grace grower." Maybe they're a family member, maybe you are assigned to the same group for a project, maybe they're an acquaintance or a co-worker. This person is difficult to be around, pushes your buttons and possesses many of the characteristics you find the most annoying. They might even lash out at you, manipulate you or hurt you intentionally. Sometimes he or she just plain drives you crazy.

The speaker then reminded us... "YOU are that person to someone."

Harsh truth moment.

None of us are exempt from this...and none of us are immune.

Romans 3:23: "We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God." I'm not perfect. I screw up. While I never set out to hurt anyone, I do so inadvertently just by being...human. I'm sure my personality, quirks, habits and tendencies rub some people the wrong way. I stretch myself too thin and take on too many projects, so I'm sure there are plenty of people who think I'm a flake. I'm an idea person and a creative so sometimes I talk too much or boss people around. I'm a "get 'er done" type and I've undoubtedly stepped on a few toes along the way. The list could go on (and on...and on).

John 16:33: "In this world, you will have trouble." No matter how closely we walk with the Lord, no matter how hard we try to keep the peace, no matter how much we try to keep short accounts and treat people kindly, nothing we can do can make us impermeable to attack. As long as there are people, there will be trouble. Thank God the second half of John 16:33 that says, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

When one of the "grace growers" in my life recently lashed out at me, I felt wounded for a while. After reminding myself of the above (sometimes it's reversed and I'm the perpetrator...and, such is life in this imperfect world), Galatians 6:2 came to mind where it says, “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." She later admitted she was having a bad day and may have overreacted. Maybe she also struggles with insecurity. Maybe she's been hurt in the past in a similar situation. Maybe she's lonely. Maybe she was just “hangry” (angry due to hunger). Whatever her reasons, those are her burdens and I am called to bear them.

I also thought about all the people in MY life who bear my burdens, the ones who see me as a "grace grower." I am so grateful to them for "bearing with me" with grace and kindness. So whether you're the victim or the perpetrator right now, continue bearing while grace keeps growing.

Tabitha Dumas
Writer

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No Free “WHY-FI”

A friend of mine lost her battle to cancer after a seven year fight. As a strong Christian she had thousands of people praying for her. Yet, despite the multitude of prayers, my friend still died.

Through no fault of her own, a single-mother friend of mine was released from her job leaving her with insurmountable financial hardships.  Another friend, after extensive marriage counseling still found herself embroiled in a bitter divorce.

The stories are endless regarding the trials that many of us face in life. The common reaction to any type of trial or crisis in life is usually to ask, Why did this happen?”

It’s not as if knowing why will somehow magically fix whatever the situation is. More often than not this insatiable desire to ask why only serves to drive us that much crazier.

The fact of the matter is simple:  We’re not always meant to know why things happen as they do. God is sovereign and He is the one in control.

The Bible tells us in Isaiah 55:8: “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”

The Bible also tells us in John 16:33:  "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows." Admittedly it’s not a great selling point for Christianity knowing this, but then, life is full of trials regardless of whether we are a Christian or not.

The good news is that as believers when we have trials, rather than succumbing to the need to know “Why,” we’d do better asking — “What.”  What can I learn from this trial, Lord?

The Bible is our handbook for handling difficulties. When trials arise it’s good to remember there are no guarantees we’ll get free “why-fi;” only promises that we can trust the Word. “But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)

Blessings in Christ,
Kathy Kurlin
Author
www.kathleenkurlin.com

 

 

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