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Then Job gave a feast for his brothers and sisters and for his old friends. They expressed their sorrow for the suffering the Lord had brought on him, and they each gave Job some silver and a gold ring. Job 42:11 (CEV)

A friend of mine was in a horrific accident a few years ago. Before the accident John (not his real name) was known for his temper. When things were going well he was a friendly cordial business man in our small town. When things weren’t going well everyone knew to stay out of his way. The problem escalated when John had been drinking. He wasn’t just an angry man, he was (by his own admission) and angry alcoholic.

As a result of his accident, John lost both of his legs. He was in a medically induced coma for several weeks to allow the brain and body to heal properly. When the day came to wake him up, everyone was ready for the worst. It didn’t happen. John woke up fully accepting the news of his legs and with a completely different personality. John also woke up completely surrendered to Jesus Christ.

John tells me that he had accepted Christ over 15 years earlier, but had chosen to live his own way. He was never happy. Guilt was a part of his life. Misery was temporarily dulled by chemicals but the chemicals always demanded more.

John is quick to tell anyone that will listen that the accident that took his legs was no accident at all. It was God’s way of bringing him to complete surrender to him. He takes full responsibility for his actions.

When horrible things happen to you or to others, how do you respond? Do you become bitter? Do you become angry? Do you play your entire deck of blame game cards? Sometimes things happen in our lives that we can point to as direct consequences of our actions. Other times, things happen in our lives for no apparent reason. How we respond in either situation tells us what our character is like.

John will tell you he is suffering the consequences of sin. Job was a man in the Bible who suffered terribly as well. He lost his children, his wealth and his health. Yet he remained faithful to God. God never explained to Job why he allowed those things to happen, but when his time of testing was over he was completely restored. Once restored Job held a great party for all his family and friends. He wasn’t bitter about his losses. He wasn’t angry over unwarranted pain and suffering. He was thankful to a God who is both mysterious and faithful. When God allows something unjust or justified to happen to us we can become angry, we can become bitter or we can endure and then celebrate.

PRAYER: Father God, when I’m honest with myself I have to admit that many of my struggles are my own doing and I deserve what I get. Other times I question your actions. Show me how I can live a life of celebration based on who you are, not on what I want. Amen.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2

In the movie “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” all the contestants of the contest are in competition for the grand prize of owning their own chocolate factory. What an awesome prize. As the troop tours the chocolate factory, ‘Willie’ gives them only one rule. Obey him. Follow the rules. Listen to him.

Sounds simple enough until you factor in greed and the human nature. Each of the children (except one) fails miserably because they want their own way. Their parents struggle because they have always granted every wish their ‘little boy’ or ‘little girl’ wanted. The end result was that they were all spoiled brats and completely unaware that other people may have feelings or rights.

We laugh at the story. We scoff at the parents that allow their children such power. We are amazed that parents who love their children would allow them to be so controlled by greed. So demanding of their own way. “Why if that were my child they’d realize they can’t have things the way they want all the time” we say self-righteously.

Before we are too hard on the parents in this movie we need to think about how we respond to God when our prayers aren’t answered in the way we’d like them to be answered. We pray. We pray earnestly. We pray for good things…from our perspective. And when they don’t get answered we react. Sometimes we react with anger. “God doesn’t love me” or “God is angry with me for my sin. I thought I was forgiven” or we may even doubt that God exists!

Part of the problem is that we need to look at prayer, and life, from God’s perspective. We tend to think of God as some sort of ‘Divine Santa Clause’ and the angels as being happy, goofy elves. The whole spirit world is intent on making us comfortable in this life.

But God’s desire for us is salvation and purity. Sometimes earthly comforts may accompany that and we may be blessed financially. Other times his path on earth may be scattered with potholes of uncertainly, illness and relational disaster. The goal of life isn’t earthly comfort but eternal blessing. Our heavenly Father will do whatever he can to bring that to fruition.

No parent would give their child everything they want. What if your child were to ask to play in the middle of the highway? What if your child were to ask for a good drink of rat poison? Would you allow that? Of course not! Even though the child would see no danger, you know better.

In the same way, your Heavenly Father knows better what you need, even if that means bringing some pain and uncertainty into your life. As you pray, pray with your eyes open to what will be best for eternity. God’s desire is for salvation, nothing more. Be thankful that even when God’s answers don’t give you what you are hoping for, he always gives us what is best for eternity.

PRAYER: Father God, I worship you today for your great and mighty love. I thank you that you know exactly what I need and will bless me according to my need and not always my want. I praise you that everything that happens in my life is a preparation for eternity. In Jesus name, Amen.

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April 2023
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