Difficulties and disappointments happen. Life can be downright hard. From the time I entered fourth grade, I knew my Dad struggled with health issues. Due to a genetic predisposition for disease and some unhealthy choices, it was only a matter of time before his health began to decline. He had an artificial heart valve put in, and was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis a few years later. I can only imagine the pain he experienced on a daily basis.
My Dad's suffering played a big role in my career choice. I wanted to help prevent illness. My focus was corporate wellness: emphasizing everything from smoke cessation to weight management. Setting up exercise programs and motivating clients to stick with their regimen became my passion.
As I look back, I can see how God used a difficult situation to inspire positive growth. The same is true today. Each disappointment carries with it the opportunity to create something beautiful. My challenge is to trust the Lord when each trial comes, allowing Him to make the proverbial lemonade from the lemons.
Step back in time with me some twenty-five hundred years or so. Our city of Jerusalem has been ransacked and we've been taken captive by the Babylonians. We're now living among a strange people many miles from home.
Can you imagine it? It's so easy to let your mind drift back to all the comforts of your hometown. The friendly neighbors you had. The bakery you owned and operated in the heart of the city. The temple where you worshipped the Lord. But everything is different today. Your eyes fill with tears as you long for the way things used to be...
Then you receive the letter. A letter from none other than the prophet Jeremiah, inspired by the very God of heaven. His words cause an initial sting, but you know they contain the truth:
"Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace," (Jeremiah 29:4-7; KJV).
Wow! So this captivity is all a part of God's plan. Our poor choices brought His judgment, but even in this place, He desires to bless us, if we just obey Him. Basically, He wants us to move on with life. Bloom where we're planted. Even pray for our captors. Radical commands! His purpose for us is clear, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end," (Jeremiah 29:11).
Fast forward to today. All of us experience difficulties - probably not as drastic as those faced by the children of Israel! What will you choose to do with your trials? Allow them to destroy you? Or trust God through the situation and allow Him to create something beautiful? The choice is yours!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You are so good to me. Help me to focus on Your purpose for each trial in my life. I need Your strength to choose to continue living life when things become difficult. Thank You for the truth of Your Word. Use every trial in my life to create something beautiful that points to You. In Jesus' name, Amen.