Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you,
which comes upon you for your testing,
as though some strange thing were happening to you;
but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing,
so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
1 Peter 4:12-13 NASB
Because of a desert rainstorm, we had the most marvelous profusion of flowers.
Verbena grew and bloomed everywhere. Purple flowers appeared in places I’d never seen them before. Even the ocotillo bloomed. I never thought the desert could have so many wild flowers, but it proved itself worthy of the rain it received. The rain brought an unexpected benefit, and we enjoyed it.
Maybe you’ve thought: If I could just see some reason for what I fear, maybe then I wouldn’t be so worried. Just like the rain brought flowers and greenery, the potential trials and tribulations we worry about will also bring benefits and advantages.
But what should our attitude be about potential problems? And how we should handle them?
Don’t Be Surprised
Sometimes worry catches us off guard because we’re surprised we’re having problems. Our worry is based in thoughts such as, I don’t deserve problems. If I’m having them, I have something to worry about.
Kari West, who experienced a divorce, expresses it this way: “When your expectations about life and love are shattered, you get over building castles in the air. You discover there is no such place as an idyllic abode. You catch sight of how loss is moving you past your personal standards to what God expects of you. It has taken years, but I’m finally getting the picture.
I expected more than this life could ever deliver. In the cold glare of reality, I now realize that life in this fallen world is not and has never been fair. It will never be a warm-fuzzy painting. Life is what it is.”
We may fear God isn’t on the job, but don’t be alarmed. He hasn’t left His post. In fact, I like to remember that all of our problems are required to go through God’s love filter.
Do Be Steadfast
Satan wants to discourage our trust in God by flinging trials, problems, and persecutions toward us, hoping we’ll say, “Enough is enough! I’m not going to take any more. I’m worried things will get worse.”
Even if we don’t turn away from the Lord, we will be distracted and ineffective in our witness because we’re too absorbed in worry. Our God is greater than our fears, and we can face our worries and allow God to stretch us. Then we’ll see the spring flowers bloom from the rain.
Don’t Resist Stretching
Things like lack of joy, disbelief, confusion, discontentment, and other destructive results accompany worry. We don’t want that. If we can notice the bright, colorful blooms that come from going through problems and difficulties, we’ll be less likely to let worry control us.
Remember It’s A Many-Layered Process
For the greater part of our marriage, Larry’s father was involved in a cult. He didn’t want to celebrate Christmas with our children, and he made our visits to his home filled with tension as he dogmatically spouted his ideas about religion. I felt angry that he hurt Larry’s mother so deeply and that he wasn’t the spiritually encouraging grandfather I wanted for Darcy and Mark.
Over the years I tried many times to forgive my father-in-law, but it was a many-layered bitterness in which I went back and forth, forgiving him and then getting angry again. I cried out to God many times, saying, “Lord, I want to forgive him completely, but another layer of resentment keeps surfacing. Help me.”
Even in the midst of fear and worry, we can trust God. We don’t need to be surprised when problems assault us.
Stand steadfast, knowing God will stretch you to become more like Christ.
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What’s one way you could respond to problems more appropriately?
Kathy Collard Miller
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Kathy Collard Miller wanted to be a writer when she was a teenager; she just didn’t know what it looked like. As a young mom, she took a community writer’s class and learned about a query letter. She sent one off and, as a result, sold her first article. Then she went to a writer’s conference and three years later, her first book was published. It was called, Out of Control, and told the story of how God delivered her from being a child abuser. Now over 30 years later, she has 49 published books and a fiftieth contracted. She loves writing and speaking. Miller has spoken in 30 states and seven foreign countries. Her passion is to help Christians trust God more and to help others know how much God loves them. She lives in Southern California with her husband, Larry, of 43 years. They have written books together and spoken together on marriage.