Ever had difficult times? Or even disastrous times? Doug has a fresh perspective on our hard circumstances - that they might even be for our own good....

Doug Giles
Doug Giles

"The suffering you sent was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your principles."
King David
Psalm 119.71

How many of you have prayed . believed . desired . hoped and worked for something, and then, in one fell swoop, all your efforts seemingly get crossed up and don't pay off? And there you sit, gobsmacked, as you watch all your best work and dreams go straight down the toilet. Am I the only one who has stood next to life's loo and had this unfortunate point of view?

You see other people's lives, and everything they touch seemingly turns to gold. No trials. No waiting. No pain for them!

And here's the kicker. You know they're no better than you. You know they have the same proclivities toward evil as you do. You know they, too, sneak a peak at Springer's daily televised assault on humanity. You know you're not being singled out for being more evil than your fellow creepy mortals. You're left thinking . hey, Yahweh . what gives? Cut me some slack here, why don'tcha?

To add further insult to festering injury, some seven-figure-a-year guy's smarmy trophy-wife, who has not a care in the world, tells you, while you're bleary eyed and disillusioned, to "Rejoice in all things."

You know she's right . you know you should rejoice even though she really grates your flesh. So . to acquiesce, you grunt a grin of mock civility . but inside you feel lost. Your agitation with your situation is so bad that you're even not too stoked about picking up your Bible and reading it anymore. Scriptures like "delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart" have no appeal. Why? Well . you tried to delight yourself in Him, yet your spiritual vision is still as blurred as Boris Yeltsin's eyesight on a weekend vodka binge during a Russian blizzard.

And then you start thinking the blasphemous, "Yeah . what a friend I have in Jesus! With friends like Him . who needs enemies? If God loved me . if He really delighted in me . if His heart was toward me . then He wouldn't treat me like this."

Here's where we need to tread lightly.

Right here, we had better understand that we are in a major spiritual minefield that is potentially deadly. The Evil One is trying to tempt us to rail against God and make false inferences with regard to what is happening to us and completely blow off following Him.

To get out of this sticky situation, first of all understand that many things that may be cross to our desires are not cross to our good. Of the many names that God has, not one of them is Santa Claus or Sugar Daddy. If you're a Christian, do you realize that Abraham, Jacob, David, Job, Moses, Jeremiah, Jonah and a host of other biblical heavy weights had a ton of stuff that went contrary to their desires and endeavors, but were not contrary to their good? The sooner the Nuevo Saint of the New Millennium can swallow this jagged little pill, the quicker he'll begin to mature. I know, in most feel-good churches they don't teach that any longer, but it is still in the scriptures.

Secondly, to help us understand cross acts of providence, we must realize that often God's hand is set against us when His heart is set toward us. The Bible is Windex-like in its clarity about God really digging us and also having no problemo giving us a good life-lesson, butt-whipping at the same time.

Listen. No man can conclude where the heart of God stands by His hand. Are you getting this? Look . God can and will kick butt and take names. He can penalize us for our weird penchants. He can spiritually smack us so hard that He makes Jackie Chan look like Urkel. All the while, He really really likes us. God loved his spiritual sons like Job and David, and in His love, He allowed for disastrous things to rock their world for their ultimate good.

So . watch out when you conclude personally or with regard to others that God's heart is against those whom His hand is seemingly against. You might end up condemning the just whom God would not have unjustly condemned.

Thirdly, know that all cross providences that smack the saints are for the purpose of some noble good that God intends to prefer upon them. Take Joseph, for example. Joe got sold into slavery to a distant country through the envy and malice of his ministerial alliance. Then brother Joseph was falsely imprisoned after he radically obeyed God. Nevertheless, through all this intergalactic bad junk, The Dreamer was getting closer to his dream.

Put that in your irony bong and smoke it!

Check it out. What Joseph's brothers sought to diminish . God used to promote. His brothers sold Joseph so that he would not be exalted over them, yet he was exalted because he was sold.


My ClashPoint is this: We've got to remember, and I know this hurts all self-obsessed me-monkeys, but God is not the least bit obligated to give us a selfish, carefree, Yippee Land existence. He's out to make us holy. And all these strange, deep, dark providences that believers meet with will help us morph into His likeness if (and that's a big IF!) we handle them wisely with kid gloves. The Holy Spirit is out to work in us that which is pleasing in His sight, and folks . our flesh does not do the electric slide in that direction. It usually takes a good shake down before we shape up. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.