The story I'm about to tell comes from a friend who has been going through a very hard time. The precise details don't matter except to say that this friend has struggled in his job for a long time and hasn't been able to take care of his family the way he would like. He
tried and tried to make things better but no matter how hard he tried, they seemed to get worse. His wife had some health issues and there were bills he couldn't pay. The unrelenting pressure showed up on his face. To use a biblical phrase, he had an angry countenance, a more or less permanent scowl that kept everyone around him on edge. Things were not good at home either. Sharp words, cutting comments, stupid remarks, accusations hurled back and forth. And every door he tried to open seemed to slam shut in his face, which only made him angrier and harder to live with. There were other setbacks that left him even deeper in the hole of despair.
Eventually he realized that he had let a "root of bitterness" grow in his heart. He summarized his situation this way: "It's frustrating to pray over and over again for some decent work, and not get it. When you're being pressured from all sides to "do something about it," and in spite of your efforts, fall short, there's a lot of reason for tension. Let's face it ... I was MAD, MAD, MAD." Someone challenged him to bring his anger to the Lord, confess it as sin, and ask for the gift of repentance. His testimony is simple: "I prayed and the Lord delivered me." Then he added this thought: "Do you remember giving a sermon about how God changes either the circumstances, or you in the
circumstances? Well, I can testify that this was a case of God changing me in the midst of my circumstances."
Though times are still very tough, his attitude has radically changed: "Oftentimes, we try to put a fancy, psycho-babble type term on unhealthy, destructive, and out-of-control anger. But, the heart-of-the-matter way of describing such is simple ... it's sin before God, and he hates it. I had to repent, and ask the Lord for his power to overcome this tendency. And to make matters even more eye-opening, when I prayed about my anger, the Lord told me that he could've given me a job and all I wanted, but I would have been in worse shape than nearly losing everything. I am actually better off where I am now because I'm in a position where God can deal with my heart."
There is a lesson here for all of us. God will do whatever it takes to get us to deal with our sin. First we are broken, then we are blessed. This is how God moves us from where we are to where he wants us to be.
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