The Lord used my 8-month-old son to teach me a valuable lesson the other day. It was a Saturday night and I had to do some ironing for church the following morning. I was in the living room, and my son was crawling around on the floor. I set up the ironing board and plugged in the iron. While the iron was heating up, I had to find a way of stopping my son from crawling to where the hot iron would be. So I got his baby car seat and laid it turned upside-down on the floor – thus making a strong enough barrier so he could not pass.
I continued to iron, feeling assured that my son was blocked off from danger. What happened in the next few minutes came as a pleasant surprise. At first the baby didn’t like the fact that Daddy had stopped him crawling wherever he wanted to go. However after a short while my son started to use the car seat to practise standing up. He put his hands on the top and was pushing upwards with his legs, thus standing and leaning on the seat. I was so happy. It was the first time I ever saw him stand up on his own.
Right then and there, the Lord spoke to me – to say that just as my son used the car seat to help him stand up, so we as Christians can see tough situations, tests and problems as opportunities to gain strength, improve in life and increase in faith. This is how God often works. What we often see as obstacles, failures and disappointments are actually opportunities He has planned to bless us. Let’s briefly look at a few examples in the Bible:
Joseph (Genesis 37:1 – 50:26)
Joseph was betrayed by his own brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt. Even though he served faithfully, he was falsely accused by his master’s wife because he resisted her sexual advances. This led to Joseph being sent to prison. Despite all this turmoil, God was using this period in his life as “leadership training” for Joseph. After a number of years – through God’s miraculous working – Joseph went on to become the Prime Minister of Egypt, second in command only to the King. He was in overall charge of the country’s economy and successfully steered Egypt through a seven-year drought. After many years of separation from his brothers, when reunited with them, he could say with confidence “God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth and save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God, and has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his house and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 45:7,8). God was orchestrating Joseph’s life all along! God actually used the cruelty and injustice Joseph suffered to get him to the right place at the right time!
David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17)
David was just a youth as he stood before Goliath – an experienced soldier who stood over 10 feet tall. In the natural, David didn’t have a chance when he confronted this giant to fight. His own brothers tried to belittle him. The King of Israel doubted him. However, David was in God’s hands. What seemed like the most one-sided battle in history was a divine setup to launch David into supernatural promotion. It was this battle that launched David into national prominence and set off a chain of events that God used to make David King of Israel and one of the most revered men in biblical history. With one stone the boy David defeated Goliath. Who could it have been who gave David the victory but God?
3 Hebrew Men in the Fire (Daniel 3)
Babylon besieged Judah and the King of Babylon – Nebuchadnezzar – ordered that the brightest young men of Judah be captured and eventually trained up in the customs and affairs of Babylon. Among these men were Daniel and his 3 friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Soon after, Nebuchadnezzar decided to set up an image for the people under his reign to worship. When the 3 friends refused to bow to this idol, the king was furious, and had them thrown into a fiery furnace. They weren’t phased. They would rather perish than be unfaithful to the true and living God.
God did not save them from being thrown into the fire. He went one better. He preserved them IN the fire! Daniel 3:27 says “the fire had no power upon their bodies, nor was the hair of their head singed; neither were their garments scorched or changed in colour or condition, nor had even the smell of smoke clung to them.” What surely seemed to be the end of these men was just the beginning. Nebuchadnezzar was so astounded by God’s intervention, he blessed God himself and decreed that anyone speaking against God would be destroyed! What a turnaround! He then promoted the 3 men in his kingdom.
Paul and Silas in Prison (Acts 16)
Paul and Silas were led by the Holy Spirit to go to Philippi. However after casting a demon out of a soothsayer girl, they were seized by her masters, who brought them to the magistrates to the city. Paul and Silas were severely beaten and put in prison. Did this chaos steal their joy? No. With wounds bleeding and with no chance of escape, these men sang praises to the Lord. The Lord Himself shook the prison doors open. However, guided by the Holy Spirit, they did not seek to escape, but instead stayed in the prison and shared the gospel with the prison-keeper. The prison-keeper accepted the message and accepted Christ into his life. Not only that, but the rest of his family did too. Paul and Silas went on to start the church in Philippi – which would become one of the closest to their hearts and ministry.
I hope you can see how God can use the most dire situations to bless His people and advance His purpose. I encourage you and myself not to give up in the rough, tough times. Instead let us believe and know that God can turn these situations around for our good (Romans 8:28). Do you want God to work like this in your life? It all starts with you knowing Him, and the only way to know Him is through accepting His Son Jesus Christ into your life. If you do not know Christ, I encourage you to invite Him into your life. It will be the best decision you ever make.