Problems? No, prods!
For reading & meditation: 2 Thessalonians 1
"' God ' is using your sufferings to make you ready for his kingdom." (v. 5, TLB)
We pause at this point to remind ourselves of the principle we are seeking to understand, namely that in God's order of things, life is always preceded by death. A grain of wheat has within it the potential of becoming many grains of wheat, but first the solitary grain must fall into the ground and die. It is only after death that its potential is released, and out of the dying comes an abundant harvest. That principle is not just to be seen as an interesting fact of nature; if our lives are to be fruitful, then we, too, must be willing to die to our own purposes so that we might live to God's. The next sphere of life we examine is the area of obstacles and opposition. Would you like your life to be free of those potentially frustrating situations that block your way or impede your spiritual development? Then let me say at once, you could be worse off without them. The obstacles and opposition you face can turn out to be prods - prods toward your spiritual growth. A minister friend of mine who was going through a period of great difficulty once asked me to pray with him that God would remove all the obstacles from his ministry. I put my hand lovingly on his shoulder and replied: "If He does, it will make your ministry less effective." He saw the point, and instead asked me to pray that God would help him to die to his own concerns. I did, and from that day to this, his ministry has flourished and become extremely fruitful. And so, my friend, can yours.
O Father, more and more the conviction grows that it is not what happens to me, but what I do with it, that is important. Deepen this conviction within me so that it becomes a controlling one - today and every day. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
For further study:
1. How did Paul view his setbacks?
2. What was the positive outcome?