I have heard several preachers referencing the fact that God has to use negative or bad situations to help us understand what He would want us to know or to do. Some say that God will use sickness, accident, loss of loved ones, loss of property, loss of jobs, failures in our lives so that we may listen to what He is telling us. One preacher said that the pruning that Jesus talks about in John 15:2 is exactly the pain that may be caused to us by God so that we may “bear more fruit”. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
While all of these may be true, I would like to underline that God is free to use whatever mechanism that pleases Him to accomplish His will. Why would He be limited to only using ways that make His servants suffer? He is free to use good or bad. He is in total control to make what we would call the negatives and the positives. In Isaiah 45:7, we read that He makes well-being and can create calamity. “I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things. Job understood this as well.” In Job 42:2 we read: I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
In this short devotion I would like us to reflect on the side that Christians mostly disregard when it comes to God dealing with our stubbornness in His ministry. Let us consider the positive ways of bringing our attention to Him and causing us to listen to His directions.
God may give us psychological comfort and peace of heart.
In one of the previous devotionals we have seen that God had used the being swallowed by the whale to prompt Jonah to pray. But, in Jonah 4:6 we read: Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. It was a plant that miraculously grew, with long leaves that made a cooling natural environment for Jonah’s comfort in the scorching heat. Jonah “was very happy about the plant”, the Bible says. I hope that when we get the need for comfort, we may turn our attention to God instead of the comfort distracting us from who God is and what He wants to do.
God may give us necessary provisions for His work.
Here in 1 Kings 19:7,8, The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. Elijah, is given enough food to make him ready for the necessary travel that was ahead of him. He needed enough preparation to reach his destination. And indeed, this helped. I wonder how prepared we get before embarking on a long journey or hard mission. Are we aware that some work necessitates some provisions are from God and not from our own efforts and strength?
God may meet our physical needs, such as food.
In John 21: 9 we read: When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus was about to have a powerful conversation with Peter concerning the future work, after He returns back to heaven. He needed Peter to have all it takes to be able to handle this talk in which He starts with the question on whether he loves Him or not. Maybe Peter needed this breakfast of roasted fish and bread, which he liked, so that it may assure him that Jesus cared for his physical needs along with his spiritual needs.
God may give us psychological comfort and peace of heart so that, as He interacts with us, we may be in a better position to listen carefully. He may give us necessary provisions to make us aware of how necessary it is that we may have to endure what He is calling us into. Finally, God may meet our physical needs, such as food, so that we may be ready for the instructions that He wants to give us.
I hope we do not take for granted these positive elements from God that indeed reinforce, strengthen and help us pay attention to God’s guidance as we follow our calling to minister to His people.