Summary: How can one find blessing in wrecking their car? You might be surprised to find out...and blessed.
I've been preaching for a while, in my 18th year of preaching. I've been around the block so to speak, but I don't claim to anyone special--just a man called to work for the Master. But being in ministry for more than just a few years does give a man experience in both the good and the bad--but is it all bad? I say no, because, as Joseph told his brothers who had sold him into slavery years earlier, "God meant it for good"...because the nation of Israel had been saved as a result.
I've preached in the past about how God puts trials and tribulations in our way for different reasons. Sometimes it's to get our attention, and to turn us around from sin both intentional and passive; those times when we flop our big hairy toe across the line knowing full well we are sinning and those times when we just ignore, procrastinate or just allow sin to happen. God can and does take us to the woodshed, and the reason why is because He is our Father in heaven:
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives."
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Hebrews 12:6-8 (ESV)
Another time that we go through difficulty is when God is breaking through to us through the fog of sin, a fog or darkness so thick that we cannot see Him. We are spiritually blind and deaf to the gospel message does not penetrate to us because of our sin (2 Peter 3:3) and because Satan and his demonic hoodlums blind us through sin to the truth (2 Cor 4:4). It is when we face hard times (or at least what we THINK are hard times), that God the Father opens the sin sick heart and draws them to Him (John 6:44).
It's funny how an incredibly hard time can change us for the better. Back in the fall of 2007, our son Turtle fell down a flight of stairs at school and landed square on his head. He had to be flown by aeromedical to Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh as he was paralyzed and suffered a concussion. His paralysis was temporary, but a few weeks later he developed post concussion syndrome; he could not remember how many inches was in a foot, the first US President or how to even use a remote control! He spent nearly two months out of school, and had a "7 out of 10 pain level" migraine daily until school finished in June.
Turtle also suffers complex migraines from time to time. He had one in the fall of 2008, and the migraine caused him to be paralyzed on his left side. I gave him some medication, but he was still paralyzed in his chest and left arm, so off we went to Children's Hospital. On the way there, he was laughing and joking; I asked him "How can you be so loose and not upset at what's going on?" He answered "After being out of school with post concussion syndrome, and having a migraine for 8 months, this is notthing". Turtle was trained by God in trial, and matured a lot because of that...and developed patience
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4
Many times, the only way that a person can be gifted my God in empathy is to go through a trial. Paul wrote in 2 Cor 1:3-4 about this very thing:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NKJV)
Kay and I lost twins at birth in 1988, and it was an incredibly hard time. However, we both know what it is like to suffer that kind of loss, and can offer support from that point of view where we could not have before. That's a gift earned by suffering.
Sometimes God also puts us through trials so that we can appreciate Him, His provision, and His blessing. This is what this message is about, and is an internal part of the Kindred United series in two ways. First, we as Christians must understand that God has intentions for the trials that we encounter; nothing takes God by surprise and, in fact, God allows those difficult things to happen. Second, we should thank God for the trials we encounter, as God has an intention behind them as I mentioned above because most times they are meant to change us in a way that God intended. Lastly, when we hit the difficult time--no matter what the cause--we should look for the hand of God. This may sound like an oxymoron, we should prepare to be surprised.