Looking for the gifts

I wrote the following six years ago. I had no idea what was coming and how I would experience this, personally. Or how to really live it.

Long seasons of difficulty, with no end in sight were ahead. We all have those things in life, to varying degrees.

I’m still learning to see the gifts in hardship, but I’m more convinced than ever that they are there. Not every situation is good, or is caused by God – I don’t believe that – but would He be God if He couldn’t give us good things despite our pain?

He is and He can. Give us eyes to see…

The Riches of His No (Jan. 21, 2011)

The kids and I were in the car the other day and we were listening to “Forever Reign,” from Hillsong Live. There’s a line that says, “the riches of your love will always be enough…” Riley asked me what “the riches of His no,” was. She had heard it wrong.

I was thinking about that this morning because the song was on again on my way to the grocery store, and something hit me…the riches of His “no.”

Have you ever thought about that? That there are riches, things to be gained and won, when He says, “No,” or when He seems slow to move to answer prayer or rescue us from situations that are uncomfortable, stressful or painful?

Listen to these:

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8

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

My natural tendency when I am in distress is to ask to be rescued. “God, make it go away!”

But often, He says, “Not yet.”

When those not yets come, what then? “Consider it pure joy.”

Say what?

According to these verses, there are some good things that come from suffering and trials…perseverence, wisdom, patience, maturity, character, and even hope, of all things.

Hope in the midst of hardship? Absolutely.

Our hope is not in circumstances changing, but in the One who has the power to change them…or not change them. When you shift your focus off of feeling better, and shift it toward God, toward bringing Him glory in all things, you gain an eternal perspective.

And that’s where hope is…in the joy set before us – ahead of us – and that can give us joy now.

We are not completed works. We are in process…we haven’t become, but are becoming. In order to become something beautiful, something pure and spotless, without mixture…24K…we have to go through the fire – the Refiner’s fire.

Don’t serve your circumstances; make them serve you. What the enemy means for harm, God intends for good. Stay in the process and plunder the situation for its riches – take everything out with you that you can.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

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