“The best time to decide how to handle a difficult situation is before you get into that situation,” we’d say.
The same is true for grownups, but today I’m thinking less about temptation and more about trials.
A dear friend recently died of cancer. To be honest, death is something I’d rather not think about. The loss of someone I care for, however, invites me to ponder my own mortality. This is a good thing. It’s biblical. The psalmist prayed, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).
We’re also wise to acknowledge that if we live long enough, trials will come. This is biblical, too. “In this world you will have tribulation,” Jesus warned his disciples. Accepting this fact gives us an opportunity to decide in advance how we’ll act and react when troubles enter our lives.
I pray your trial doesn’t come in the form of cancer. It may come instead as a wayward child, unemployment, or infertility. No matter what our challenges look like, we are wise to mentally and spiritually prepare for them. We must decide in advance how we will respond.
Nineteenth century theologian Oswald Chambers has wise words on this subject in his classic devotional, My Utmost for His Highest (June 25). “Sorrow burns up a great amount of shallowness, but it does not always make a man better.”
“I trust God to follow through on this and all his promises. It’s what I cling to with a vivid image of swooping over green hills and, yes, winding blue rivers, lifted by divine wings. It’s where that one river will take me that makes me unafraid now. He’s winged me successfully through many procedures and surgeries because of cancer, which has drawn me closer than I’ve ever been to him. Is cancer a blessing? In more ways than you can imagine.”
Sue decided to trust God—no matter what.
You and I should, too.
Chambers issues the challenge: “My attitude as a saint to sorrow and difficulty is not to ask that they may be prevented, but to ask that I may preserve the self God created me to be through every fire of sorrow.”
He cites the words of Jesus as the supreme example: “What shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!" (John 12: 27-28).
The best time to decide how to handle a difficult situation is before we get into that situation. This advice was true for our teenaged daughters, and it is true for us as well. If we decide in advance that we will trust God—his love, his wisdom, his provision, and his good plan—no matter what, then our faith will hold firm when trials come. Instead of being tossed to and fro by every wind of circumstance, our faith will be anchored to the bloodstained cross where Christ proved his unquestionable love for us.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3).
Will you trust him today, no matter what?
The music video by Hillsong United, "Oceans," is a beautiful declaration of faith. If you're an email subscriber and can't see the video, CLICK HERE to view "Oceans."
If you'd like to read more of Sue Duffy's Caring Bridge journal, CLICK HERE.
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