Today we are blessed to have my friend and fellow author, Poppy Smith, as a guest on Monday Morning Blog. Poppy is funny, warm, and passionate about helping women grow spiritually and personally through her books and speaking ministry so they experience the love and power of Christ in life’s ups and downs. A former teaching leader with Bible Study Fellowship, Poppy has a Masters in Spiritual Formation and ministers extensively as a retreat and conference speaker both in the US and around the world. I know Poppy would enjoy hearing your comments about today’s post.
“I don’t know how my cousin and his family will survive,” said Linda. “He lost his job with benefits and can’t find any work. They’ve skipped payments on their house, don’t have enough food, and are in despair about what to do.”
What flashes through your mind when you watch a friend or family member struggle with the fall-out of a poor economy, unemployment, or ill health? Or when you find yourself in the middle of storms, trials, tears, and confusion? Often, haunting words from a poem written by missionary to India, Amy Carmichael, flash into my mind, “Can he have followed far who has no wound nor scar?” I also think of Jesus’ words, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16: 33 NIV).
Much as we all want to float through life without encountering hard times, the fact is, most of us will face them. So is there a pathway that will help us grow in our dark times? Can we find a perspective that strengthens our faith and stabilizes our emotions?
Several years ago during a painful time in my life, I came across four questions that helped me stop asking “Why?” Instead, I learned to ask, “What? What is it God wants to bring out of this for my good and the good of others?”
These questions continue to help me when life brings unexpected challenges: Discovering I had inherited my mother’s diabetes. Undergoing open-heart surgery. Seeing family move to another state. I also apply them when struggling with hard and confusing choices—how should I use my time and talents, where is God at work and where does He want me to join in? By turning these questions into prayers and asking for wisdom and insight, I open myself to not only listen and learn from the Holy Spirit, but also to receive the comfort, courage, hope, or fresh commitment to following Him that I so desperately need.
Proverbs 3:13 states, “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding.” Wisdom is what we need whenever we wonder what is happening to us, and why.
Rather than wasting your tough experiences, prayerfully probe for God’s purpose and how He wants you to grow. These questions will help you discover this:
- What does God want to do in this situation?
Think of something you’re facing right now, or have faced. Now begin prayerfully asking God, “What do you want to do in this situation? Do you want to change my direction? To deepen my faith? To mold me for something you are planning at a future time? Have you allowed this situation to come crashing into my life because You have a greater design than I can see right now?”
- What does God want to produce in me through this?
As you look at your own stormy experiences, prayerfully ask God, “What do You want to produce in me through the experience I’m facing now? Could it be a yieldedness to Your will
rather than my own? Sensitivity to others? Trust in You? Courage to act and not hold back from what You are asking me to do? Do you want me to draw closer, to move from my stagnant faith to one that is alive and growing?”
- What does God want to reveal about Himself to me and through me?
Could He want to show you that He is faithful and will supply the strength you need? That He is wise and all-knowing—the One you can rely on? Does He want to reveal Himself as your Healer—from hurt, pain, abuse, a loss in your life? Could He be allowing a situation so you will turn to Him and deal with an area that needs attention?
- How does God want to use my trial to benefit others?
In the right place, at the right time, and in an appropriate way, sharing the storms in your life might be God’s lifeline to another hurting person. Ask God, “How do you want to use my trial to benefit others?” Then watch for His direction. As you make yourself available to encourage others, you can help them stand in life’s storms.
Wringing good out of evil and growth out of pain is God’s specialty. How have you seen this in your life?
This guest post is adapted from I’m Too Human to Be Like Jesus—Spiritual Growth for the Not-So-Perfect Woman by Poppy Smith. For more information about Poppy’s heart, her books and ministry, please visit her website at www.poppysmith.com.