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Summary: Sometimes God allows things to get difficult so He can produce greater joy in and through and with us. Jesus knew that His Father often used tragedy to cause people to look to heaven for solutions to their problems.

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John 15:11-16

Illustration: A cynic asked an elderly believer who had endured great physical pain for 20 years, "What do you think of your God now?" The godly sufferer replied, "I think of Him more than ever."

Sorrow can be the means of bringing us heart-to-heart with God. When repeated strokes of adversity have robbed us of health, friends, money, and favorable circumstances, God then becomes the only thing in life for us. We come to love Him for who He is and not merely for what He has to give.

In those times we cry out with the psalmist, "Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You" (Psalm 73:25). The path of sorrow leads us to the place where we can say, "My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (v.26). (Our Daily Bread)

Illustration: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope. --Romans 15:13

Illustration: Suffering can become so intense at times that we don’t know how we can take any more pain. It’s in these moments that Jesus reassures us of His presence and sustains us, even though for reasons we do not understand the hurt is not taken away.

Dr. Diane Komp, a pediatric cancer specialist at Yale University, often must perform very painful procedures on children. She tells of a wonderful nurse’s aide named JoAnn who reflects God’s love. During the procedures, JoAnn comes in and holds the child and tells him that she will stay with him. Her hugs along with her loving and reassuring words have carried many children through those difficult times.

That’s a glimpse of what Jesus does for those who trust Him in their suffering. He draws us to Himself and says that He will be with us in our pain, for nothing can separate us from His love (Rom. 8:39).

How often we cry out for release, but no relief comes. The pain persists, but we sense God’s presence. Later, as we look back, we can see how the Lord was with us, caring for us, meeting our deepest needs.

No matter what painful situation you may face today, remember that Jesus is holding you

Illustration: In 1931, Jane Whyte felt she was nearing the end of her life. Her husband Alexander, the famous Scottish preacher, had died 10 years earlier. As she looked at the world around her, she was depressed by the moral and political chaos. There seemed to be no reason for her to go on, nothing for her to do.

At dinner one evening, she sat next to a man who sensed her dejection. "What is your greatest concern?" he asked. "I’m preparing to die," said Mrs. Whyte. "Why not prepare to live?" he suggested.

That was the question Mrs. Whyte needed to hear to break the deadlock in her life. She began to see that God wanted her to live and to touch others for Him. Her attitude changed and within a year she led a Christian outreach team on a mission to Geneva, Switzerland. That trip profoundly affected the lives of many people.

Life can seem overwhelming at times, but God offers us hope. Paul wrote, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 15:13).

Regardless of your age or circumstances, don’t despair and "prepare to die." Believers in Christ can prepare to live--filled with hope, joy, and peace

(Our Daily Bread)

1. Jesus knew that God often uses tragedy to cause people to look to heaven for solutions to their problems. The Savior said, "Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." (Jn. 15:2) Thank the Lord to for His pruning of certain habits, thoughts and dependencies enabling you to be more fruitful.

2. Jesus knew that people need to die to themselves and their desires before God can properly use them. The Lord Jesus said, "Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." (Jn 12:24) Ask the Lord for a greater yielding attitude so you can enjoy greater spiritual success.

3. Jesus knew that sometimes we must step aside in order for God’s greater work to be done. The Lord Jesus said, "It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." (Jn. 16:7) Ask the Lord for the wisdom to know when to step aside to allow God to use whomever He wants to get His will accomplished.

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