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The Survival Zone: Can ALL be good in the midst of difficult trials?

January 11, 2012 1 comment


How do you respond to the events which happen in your life?  Do you see them as good or bad depending on the situation?  We are often faced with tragedy, hurts, disappointments and the like in the midst of many positive circumstances in our life.  Are life events all good independent of their nature?  God’s Word tells us in…

1 Thessalonians 5:18
18in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

And in,

Romans 8:28
28And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

So, are bad trials, really bad trials, in our lives good?

The following story (source: Open Doors Ministry) helps give an interesting perspective for how we should endeavor to look at life’s circumstances and appropriately respond.

A tribal king in Africa had a close friend with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) as well as the lives of others and remarking, “This is good!” He based it on our two Scriptures above.  The king loved his friend’s positive outlook and took him with him wherever he went.

One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. As the king fired his gun at a pheasant that flew up from the long grass, the rifle backfired and blew off his right thumb. Looking at the king’s bleeding hand, his friend remarked as usual, “This is good!”

The king was angry and replied, “No, this is NOT good!” and proceeded to send his friend to jail for his insensitivity.

About a year later, the king was hunting all alone in an area that he should have known to stay clear of.  Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, and were going to cook him in a big pot. As they set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb on his right hand. Being very superstitious, cannibals never eat anyone who is less than perfect. So they released the king.

Walking home he kept staring at his right hand without a thumb. “This IS good!” he said out loud. He was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his shabby treatment of his friend. So he went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend.

“You were right,” he said, “it was good that my thumb was blown off.” And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. “And so, I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this.”

“No,” his friend replied as usual, “This is good!”

“What do you mean, ‘This is good?’ How could it be good that I put my friend in jail for over a year?”

“Well,” replied his friend, “if I had not been here in jail, I would have been out there with you!”

Survival Points:  God is sovereign and desires His people to draw near to Him, trust Him, and be totally dependent on Him.  As He crafts our character through our trials in this life He uses the circumstances of life to accomplish His purpose in growing us toward Christ-likeness.   Even in the negative things He is sovereign and has purposed all we experience for our good and His glory.  Our response should be to focus on the “what” of our trial – what do You wish me to learn from this Lord; how can I serve You more fully; how can I become more like Your Son?  Let the negative challenges of your life circumstances, small or great, draw out the positive of God through your testimony!

Yes, all is good even in our really difficult trials and circumstances (while in many instances we may not see this at the time);  we are even given the privilege through our trials to experience the joy of Christ as never before as we learn to see our trials for their designed purposes.  The Apostle Paul’s Christian life seemed to be one difficult trial after another, yet he was always positive, on mission, and an encouragement to others independent of his circumstances (read Acts 16).  Which is in essence the definition of joy (a feeling of peace beyond our understanding independent of our most challenging circumstances – Phil 4:6-7)!  His secret was to always have the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5) and be focused on the future and the upward calling of the kingdom of God (Phil 3:13-14).

Our prayer should be for God to help us always see the positive in ALL our circumstances (Romans 8:28); trusting in His sovereignty; acknowledging He always knows what is best and good for us; and in all things give thanks (1 Thess. 5:18) for we have a strong Advocate to cast all our cares upon for He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).  We are not alone, ever, He has promised to never leave us or forsake us, that means especially in our difficult trials (Heb 13:5). Remember God’s ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts or timing (Is 55:8-9).  We should ask God to help us always elevate our thoughts upward toward Him, seeing His purposes of goodness in them!

Lord help us always to be Christ-centered and Kingdom-focused seeing beyond ourselves toward Your higher purposes all for Your honor and glory.  Amen.