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God's plan

When the Problem Is the Solution

“I am raising up the Babylonians, a cruel and violent people.” (Habakkuk 1:6)

Have you ever been through a difficult season that eventually worked for your good? That’s how our God works. God tells us straight out that he has the superpower of turning what we consider bad into something good. (See Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28.)

What if the pain you’re experiencing now is actually part of God’s plan to bring good into your life?

The book of Habakkuk tells of a time when God’s people in the nation of Judah had lost their way. The prophet describes it like this: “Violence is everywhere! I cry, but you do not come to save. Must I forever see these evil deeds?…” (Habakkuk 1:2-3).

Habakkuk asked God why he didn’t do something about the problem of Judah’s disobedience and evil behavior. God answered Habakkuk, but his answer was disturbing. God said he already was doing something about it: He was raising a powerful army to invade and conquer Judah.

Conquer Judah? What a shocking answer! Habakkuk wanted revival or repentance, maybe sackcloth and ashes—but certainly not a hostile takeover from a violent horde. On the surface, the solution seemed worse than the problem—but it wasn’t.

God is always most concerned with our hearts, and he knew that the people of Judah weren’t ready to turn their hearts back to him. God knew what it would take to restore Judah. What appeared to be a calamity was actually a merciful God leading his people on the journey back to him.

Joseph’s life is an example of God bringing good out of a bad situation. He was sold into slavery but God placed him in a position to rescue his family and many others from a devastating famine. What seemed to be a tragedy was actually the catalyst for the solution.

Same story with Jonah. He was swallowed by a whale but learned obedience. Out of Jonah’s pain came the rescue of Ninevah.

What seems disastrous to us may actually be the act of a loving and merciful Father. Often, when we look back we can see that what seemed harmful at first glance actually worked for our good. That’s the promise of God to his children—he takes what the enemy means for evil and uses it for good.

So I ask you again: What if the struggles you are facing in your life are not the problem, but the solution? What good thing will God bring out of this season of your life? God is on your side. He will use it all—every bit of your life—for good!

Dear God, I give you this season of my life. Use it for my growth and for your glory. I believe you will redeem my pain and loss and turn it into good. Thank you for your presence. Thank you for the Holy Spirit who comforts me. In Jesus’s name, amen.

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One Thing Lacking

“Jesus fixed his gaze upon the man, with tender love, and said to him ‘Yet there is still one thing in you lacking…’” (Mark 10:21)

In Mark, chapter 10, we read about a man who had a problem—one he probably didn’t realize he had. This man was young and wealthy. One day, he came running to Jesus, knelt in front of him, and asked what he must do to have eternal life.

Jesus said, “You already know the commandments.” The man knew the Jewish law well and carefully obeyed them. To look at him, one would think he had it made. He was successful. He didn’t steal, commit adultery, lie, or cheat. And he was in the right place, kneeling at the feet of Jesus.

He probably expected a pat on the back and kind words. What he actually received must have shocked him to his core.

Jesus gazed at the young man with genuine love and with deep understanding of his heart. Jesus told him he lacked one thing. Jesus didn’t say what the one thing was, but gave him instructions: “Go and sell everything, give the money to the poor, and return and follow me.”

The young man loved his possessions too much. He knew the next step he needed to take. But he couldn’t do it.

He hung his head, turned, and walked away. It’s like being diagnosed with a disease and prescribed a pill that will restore us to full health but choosing to walk away, choosing disease instead of healing. This young man chose his to keep his problem.

We know nothing else about the young man’s life, but we know he chose his stuff instead of his next step. He chose his stuff instead of restoration.

Friend, no one knows how to make us whole except Jesus. We can’t fix ourselves. Honestly, most of the time we don’t even know for sure what needs fixing. We struggle with unforgiveness, depression, anger, and so much more. We desperately need Jesus. We need to run to him, kneel at his feet, ask what we’re lacking, where we’re coming up short, and how we can move from where we are toward where we could be.

When we do, he’ll look at us with genuine love. And he’ll give us a next step. While change sometimes happens instantly, more often it is a process. Jesus’s part in the process is to direct us to our next step. Our part is to obey, to actually do what we know he wants us to do. Even when it’s hard. Even when it’s not what we expected. And even when it costs us something.

It’s by taking one step, and then another, that we transform into the person God created us to be. Be wise. Be brave. Take that next step.

Dear God, examine my heart. Look at my life. Where do I need to change? What issues do I need to deal with? And, Lord, what is my next step? I believe you have a purpose for my life, and I know I can’t fix myself or get there by myself. I need your direction. Give me faith, courage, and an obedient heart to change my life step by step. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Your turn: What advice do you have for someone struggling with their next step? Let us know in the Leave a Reply section below.

Categories
Handling Life's Problems

Hide It or Handle It?

“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” (Luke 8:17)

Once there was a child with a very messy room. The child’s mother instructed him to clean the room, to put all the dirty clothes in the laundry room, all the toys in the toy box, and to sweep the floor. Soon—too soon—the child came back and told the mother the room was clean.

The mother was surprised to find the room looking neat and in good order. But closer inspection revealed all the clothes, both clean and dirty, shoved under the bed. The toys were pushed in the corner of the closet. Suspecting the worst, the mother picked up the rug and found all the dirt had been swept under it.

You see, the child didn’t want to handle the mess in the room; he just wanted to hide it.

We can fall into a similar situation. Often, we don’t want to deal with the issues in our lives. We also don’t want others to know about them. So, we hide them. We conceal depression, loneliness, or pain behind a smile. We go to great lengths to keep our addictions, guilt, or even thoughts of suicide secret. Instead of handling our issues, we try to hide them.

We may think we’re hiding it well. We may even take pride in how well we hide our issues. But, friend, we can’t hide our issues from God. He already knows all our issues. Nothing is hidden from him, and all the things we think we’re hiding will eventually be brought out into the open.

God doesn’t want us to hide our issues. And he doesn’t want us to handle them alone. He already knows our issues, loves us anyway, and longs to step into our lives and heal the issues we so desperately try to hide.

Revelation 3:20 says, “Look! I have been standing at the door, and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and him with me.” Jesus is ready and willing right now to enter into your situation. He’s knocking. But he waits for your invitation.

Inviting Jesus into your situation is the beginning of change. Do you really want to keep dealing with those issues in your life? Do you want to be free of the pain, released from the oppression, and healed of the hurt? Would you like to stop pretending you’re OK? The first step is to invite Jesus into your situation.

He’s knocking right now. Will you invite him in?

Jesus, thank you for continuously knocking at the door of my heart. I invite you into my situation right now. I’m tired of pretending I’m OK. I’m tired of hiding what I’m actually feeling in my heart and dealing with in my life. I’m ready for a change. I invite you to step into the middle of my mess and help me move toward healing and wholeness. In Jesus’s name, amen.