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Girlfriends in God - Oct. 1, 2008

October 1, 2008
The Promises of Problems
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”  Genesis 50:20

Friend to Friend
If you are like me, you prefer days when the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and not a cloud in sight.  Problems tend to irritate me because they make me realize just how frail I am as a human.  But I have come to realize that every problem points to a promise. 

Promise of direction
God uses problems to show us the way.  We would walk through the wrong door if He didn’t close it.  Years ago, I dated a young man I thought I would marry.  We had it all worked out.  He was a preacher and I played the piano and sang.  What could be more perfect?  I began to pray, “Lord, if he is not the one, just close the door!”  The very next conversation I had with this young man ended our relationship and resulted in my taking a church staff position that led me to Dan Southerland.  I look back and thank God for that closed door. 

"Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways."  Proverbs 20:30

Promise of correction
God uses problems to correct us.  I have come to realize that some lessons can only be learned in the darkness, through pain and failure.  When our daughter was a toddler, she was fascinated with electrical outlets.  Nothing we said or did seemed to deter her…until the day she stuck a safety pin in the outlet.  “Ouch!” she cried, holding up her little red finger for me to kiss.  She never played with an outlet again.  

"It was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to your laws."  Psalm 119:71-72

Promise of protection
A problem can be a blessing in disguise if it keeps you from being hurt by something more serious.  It was so hard for me to take our children to the doctor to get immunization shots.  I would take a healthy child into the doctor’s office and come out with a little one who was fussy, sore and running a low grade temperature.  Our pediatrician finally said, “Mary, just think of it like this.  You are allowing your babies to experience a little hurt in order to prevent them from experiencing a bigger hurt.  A tetanus shot is nothing compared to tetanus itself.  

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”  Genesis 50:20

Promise of perfection
Problems, when responded to correctly, are character builders.  I recently spoke for a women’s conference that used the theme of “Problems into Pearls”.  Strands of pearls were everywhere – the center of each table, on the podium from which I spoke, draped across tables – and many of the ladies wore pearls that day.  When the worship leader welcomed me, she said, “We have to get you some pearls!”  Digging in her purse, she produced the most beautiful pearl necklace and placed it around my neck.  As the day went on, I spoke several times, counseled and prayed with numerous women and tried to meet as many women as possible.  When everyone had left, the woman came to retrieve her pearl necklace.  I was embarrassed.  I had worked up quite a sweat with all of that hugging, laughing, talking.  She brushed my apology aside and said, “Sweat is good for pearls.  It helps them keep their luster.”

"We can rejoice when we run into problems... they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady." Romans 5:3-4

God is at work in and around you.  You may not see His hand, hear His voice or even understand His process, but you can rest assured that you can trust His heart.  Remember, every problem points to a promise.

Let’s Pray
Father, thank You for each problem that points me to You.  Help me to see trials as handles for Your promises and tools for growth in my life.  I choose to accept the lessons You want to teach me in the dark times and celebrate their truth in the light.  Give me the strength and power to trust You completely.
In Jesus’ name,

Now It’s Your Turn

  • What problem are you facing right now? Put it into words and record it in your journal.  
  • Pray, surrendering that problem to God and ask Him for the promise it holds.
  • What good can come out of the problem you are facing?  
  • What scripture promise do you claim because of this problem?
  • Write that promise on a 3 x 5 card and tuck it in your purse.  When the going gets tough, pull out that card and read the verse aloud as a statement of your faith in your Problem-Solving God!

More From The Girls
If I had to choose between problems and peace, I know what I would naturally choose.  Don’t you?  But God’s ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts higher than our thoughts and His purpose more complete than our plans.  Trust Him, today, my friend.  He is Lord of the mountain, Shepherd of the valley and He loves you!  Need help avoiding that pit?  Check out Mary’s CD, How to Avoid the Pits and sign up for her free online bible study, Light for the Journey

Don’t miss the next Girlfriends in God Conference, October 17-18, in Gloucester County, New Jersey.  For more information, go to

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