Problems—Prelude to Potential

Lloyd Ogilvie said, “Problems are only a prelude to a fresh discovery of the Spirit’s potential.” The Psalmist David said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word” (Psalm 119:67). “I will…transform her Valley of Troubles into a Door of Hope” (Hosea 2:15, TLB).


Eugene Peterson, in The Message sites 2 Corinthians 4 and translates it, “Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times…We’re not keeping this quiet, not on your life. Just like the psalmist who wrote, ‘I believed it, so I said it,’ we say what we believe…Do you suppose that a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us?…People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly…in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed: working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing His power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised; and when we’re blamed, slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching man; having nothing, having it all.”

“When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character, men of integrity with no weak spots” (James 1:2-4, Phillips).

“We are handicapped on all sides, but we are never frustrated; we are puzzled, but never in despair. We are persecuted, but never have to stand it alone. We may be knocked down but not knocked out!” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10).

God uses Satan’s weapons of persecution as a means of moving the church into action.

At times we enter into problems, trials and temptations. We are tempted to quit. At times like these, we need to remember the words in this lesson, “Whether it’s right in God’s eyes to listen to you rather than God, you decide. As for us, there’s no question – we can’t keep quiet about what we’ve seen and heard” (The Message). This response sounds throughout all time for those who are encountering opposition and persecution.

Like Luther, “Here I stand, I can do no other!” “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small” (Proverbs 24:10).

The Broken Pieces of a Stained Glass Window

Guest post by Candra J. Poitras

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5, NKJV).

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, NKJV).

Ever dropped something made of glass? Come on. In all truthfulness pretty much everyone has the typical glass breaking trauma story. Mine may or may not have something to do with the Rodenbush’s butter dish…or I guess I should say, former butter dish. The bad thing about glass breaking is that you can’t put it back the way it was. After you have shattered something on the kitchen floor, it isn’t exactly possible to simply put it back together. Once broken, there is no going back.

Photo by Buzz Hoffman

Ever felt much like that broken glass? Lying on the floor, shattered in dozens of pieces. Unfixable. Permanently damaged. Past the point of hope. Perhaps you now feel as though you are broken into hundreds of tiny pieces and you will never be put back together into one whole piece again. The situation is a Mission Impossible; a dying cause. Or so you think. What if all your concepts are wrong? You see, for the most part, the breaking of glass is always viewed as a bad thing, when in reality it can be very good.

In the Middle Ages, a new art form became popular and has carried through even till today—the fine art of the stained glass window. I don’t know how much you know about stained glass windows, but I Googled them and everything, so I am now quite the expert. For all of you less informed in the art, stained glass windows start out as panes of glass that must be broken into pieces. Actually, more specifically, they aren’t broken at all, but rather, cut to fit a specific design. The glass isn’t stained, but painted in great detail by the master’s hand.

“For I know the thoughts that I have towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Before you were formed in your mother’s womb, God had a specific plan for you. The blueprint is already made; the end of your story written. Now, here is the thing. What if all the things we have been through, all the trials, heartbreaks, failures, and disappointments, what if all the things that left you broken, what if they didn’t leave you broken at all? Perhaps, it was the Lord cutting, shaping, and molding you to fit his master plan. What if the things that you thought left you broken, useless, and stained, were actually the Lord shaping and cutting you into the masterpiece He always intended you to be?

Romans 8: 28-30 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn amongst many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and who he called, them he has also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”

First of all, “all things work together for good to them that love God.” I think a lot of the time we can interpret that incorrectly. It does not say that everything will always be good, that we won’t have problems, or pain, or suffering. It says that if we love God and are called, He will take all of those things and use them for your good.

Secondly, “to them who are called according to His purpose.” How many of you feel like God has placed a calling on your life? Ever feel like you have been called and things have gone on, and mistakes have been made, and you feel disqualified a bit from your calling? Well, that isn’t what my Bible says. My Bible says that as long as you love the Lord and are called, He had a plan for you before you were even born. He already knew the end of you story as well as the beginning and middle. And He justified your past. Therefore, he knew long before you were born how things were going to turn out and He has already taken care of it.

The last component of a stained glass window is the glue or mortar that puts all the pieces back. It comes along and fills in all the cracks. It is the finishing; the thing that holds our world together. Our strength when we are weak, our comfort when we are weary, our help in time of, He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He is Daystar, Prince of Peace, Everlasting Wonder, Great I am, and Counselor. His name is Jesus; the glue that completes the puzzle of His master plan for your life. Without the last component, you can do nothing. If you step out His will and purpose, you become nothing more than little broken pieces of glass. His master plan for your life has to contain both you and Him. Without both, the plan cannot succeed.

The pain may be great, though the process may not be pleasant, but if you will just submit yourself to His master plan and allow Him to be the glue that hold your world together, the end result may just stun the world with its beauty. And don’t you find it interesting that the most intricate stained glass windows are the ones that must be broken/cut the most? Surrender to His plan, follow His will, stick to Jesus in the process, and know that the end result is going to be simply beautiful. Allow Jesus to fill in the cracks of your life and shape you into His masterpiece.

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