Category Archives: God is our Strength

Finding the Silver Lining

(Every cloud has a silver lining – John Milton)

 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

(II Corinthians 1:9)

 My boss Frank called at 6:00 am. Slurring his words, he told me he couldn’t teach the computer class our client so desperately needed. He’d been out all night partying. “You’ll have to teach it,” he said.

“But I’ve never taught the class before, Frank,” I strongly protested.  Frank mumbled something and hung up.

Placing the phone down, reality swept through my still groggy mind. This was an impossible situation. I was gripped with a wave of panic. I could either crawl back in bed and quit my only source of income, or teach a three day class covering subjects I barely knew.

Though my chances of success were very slim. I had to try and teach it. My wife and four kids were depending on me.

Later, riding the elevator to the class room on the tenth floor, I prayed. “Lord, you have to do this. I’ll do what I can and open my mouth, but please teach this class through me.”

During every break, I crammed to prepare for the next segment. I kept my Bible opened to the Psalms, jotting down prayers for guidance.

Three days later the class was over. By God’s grace, no one knew it was my first time teaching  it. And amazingly, the marks were good on the evaluation sheets the 23 students had to fill out. God taught this class through me and He was the only reason it was successful.

Month’s earlier, I  prayed for God to help me trust Him more. Looking back, I think this was his answer. The only way I could learn to not rely on me, was to be placed in a situation I couldn’t handle. I learned more about trusting God in those few days than I had in years before.

Paul wrote, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”[1]

“Good” is not just smooth circumstances and good feelings. True “good,” eternal “good” is wrapped up in our nearness and dependence upon God.

Paul was in such dire circumstances in Asia that he despaired even of life.[2] But he saw the “silver lining”.[3]  He knew there was a deeper good in his very hard circumstances. “Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”[4] The very difficult circumstances kept Paul trusting in the Lord and not in himself.

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;[5]

A most important lesson we all need to learn is that “good” does not always mean easy. What is truly “good” is what draws us closer to God.

Blessings can come in strange packages.

Our ability to find a silver lining (a reason for hope) in each and every situation is directly proportional to our belief that being with God and depending on Him is our ultimate good.

Lord, I’m so sorry for the times I have longed only for smooth, easy circumstances. I’m learning to experience the joy of your presence in all circumstances. Please teach me to long only for you. You are my life.

 

Challenge: What hard circumstance are you facing? If you haven’t already, surrender it completely to God. Ask him to use it for your good by deepening your awareness and dependence upon Him.

[1] Romans 8:28

[2] 2 Corinthians 1:8

[3] Originally from a John Milton poem referring to light bursting through a cloud, yielding the phrase “every cloud has a silver lining”

[4] 2 Corinthians 1:9

[5] Psalms 73:28

Finding the Silver Lining

(Every cloud has a silver lining – John Milton)

 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

(II Corinthians 1:9)

 

My boss Frank called at 6:00 am. Slurring his words, he told me he couldn’t teach the computer class our client so desperately needed. He’d been out all night partying. “You’ll have to teach it,” he said.

 

“But I’ve never taught the class before, Frank,” I strongly protested.  Frank mumbled something and hung up.

 

Placing the phone down, reality swept through my still groggy mind. This was an impossible situation. I was gripped with a wave of panic. I could either crawl back in bed and quit my only source of income, or teach a three day class covering subjects I barely knew.

 

Though my chances of success were very slim. I had to try and teach it. My wife and four kids were depending on me.

 

Later, riding the elevator to the class room on the tenth floor, I prayed. “Lord, you have to do this. I’ll do what I can and open my mouth, but please teach this class through me.”

 

During every break, I crammed to prepare for the next segment. I kept my Bible opened to the Psalms, jotting down prayers for guidance.

 

Three days later the class was over. By God’s grace, no one knew it was my first time teaching  it. And amazingly, the marks were good on the evaluation sheets the 23 students had to fill out. God taught this class through me and He was the only reason it was successful.

 

Month’s earlier, I  prayed for God to help me trust Him more. Looking back, I think this was his answer. The only way I could learn to not rely on me, was to be placed in a situation I couldn’t handle. I learned more about trusting God in those few days than I had in years before.

 

Paul wrote, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”[1]

 

“Good” is not just smooth circumstances and good feelings. True “good,” eternal “good” is wrapped up in our nearness and dependence upon God.

 

Paul was in such dire circumstances in Asia that he despaired even of life.[2] But he saw the “silver lining”.[3]  He knew there was a deeper good in his very hard circumstances. “Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”[4] The very difficult circumstances kept Paul trusting in the Lord and not in himself.

 

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;[5]

 

A most important lesson we all need to learn is that “good” does not always mean easy. What is truly “good” is what draws us closer to God.

 

Our ability to find a silver lining (a reason for hope) in each and every situation is directly proportional to our belief that being with God and depending on Him is our ultimate good.

 

Lord, I’m so sorry for the times I have longed only for smooth, easy circumstances. I’m learning to experience the joy of your presence in all circumstances. Please teach me to long only for you. You are my life.

 

Challenge: What hard circumstance are you facing? If you haven’t already, surrender it completely to God. Ask him to use it for your good by deepening your awareness and dependence upon Him.

[1] Romans 8:28

[2] 2 Corinthians 1:8

[3] Originally from a John Milton poem referring to light bursting through a cloud, yielding the phrase “every cloud has a silver lining”

[4] 2 Corinthians 1:9

[5] Psalms 73:28

Resting at Work

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. (Mathew 11:28)

 True rest can happen even in the midst of work.

Have you ever noticed that the same workload can seem easy one day and insurmountably overwhelming the next? A few days ago, work seemed effortless, as I cruised along in the Rivers of Living Water, experiencing the joy of the Lord’s nearness. However, only a day later, I  trudged through a dry dusty riverbed, pulling an overloaded donkey cart of work.

What happened?

As is my plan, when I noticed the shift in my heart, I reached for the  truth of God’s word. This time I turned to  Matthew 11:28. As I read, I knew the Lord was talking to me. I felt weary and heavy-laden, fatigued and over-burdened.

Come to Me, I read

But I’m already with you, I thought. You’re in me and I’m in You.[1] [2]  You hold the universe together.[3] There must be more to it.

Digging in, I discovered that the Greek word for “come” means “come hither” or “come this way”.

Jesus is always with me, but here He is asking me for a deeper “withness”. I thought of being with people in an elevator. They are with me, but unless we engage, there’s no connection.

Conversely, one of my earliest memories was  walking with my great grandmother. She held my hand and  guided me around a swimming pool. Being with her was not an option. I would have been in danger without her.

This is the level of “withness” Jesus is asking of me. When I comply, the rest comes. In my backward thinking,  rest only  comes when all the work is done. Which is never, because there’s always something else to do.

The rest Jesus is offering happens even in the midst of  work, a byproduct of  heeding His call to “come this way”.

Rest – take ease, refresh, refrain, come to an end.  My striving, my focus on work, needs to end.

My dutiful, weary day happened not because of the amount of work, but because work had become my focus. I knew Christ is my life, but I was living as if work was my life.

Being with Jesus is rest. Taking His yoke upon me is literally giving Him my burdens. In His yoke, my burden becomes His. The weightiest task feels light when I’m following Him. “For My yoke is easy and My load is light.” (Matthew 28:30)

Lord, I’m sorry I became so focused on work. You are my Life. Please keep me ever aware of your nearness and strength that I might continually be attentive to your leading.

Challenge: Is there an area of your life where you feel weary and over-burdened? If so, lean in close to Jesus so that He can say ‘come this way.’ His way will be light and powerfully effective. Handling the burdens on your own is not only wearisome, but completely ineffective.

 

[1] Galatians 2:20

[2] Ephesians 2:4-6

[3] Colossians 1:17