Years ago during the Vietnam War, unrest and protests broke out on college campuses. In May 1970, four Kent State students were killed and nine injured when the Ohio National Guard opened fire into a crowd of protestors. Afterwards numerous colleges closed temporarily due to a student-led strike.
At that time I happened to be in my junior year of college at SUNY Fredonia. Fear spread throughout the campus and grew like a snowball of terror. I tried hard to study and prepare for the semester finals. But it was difficult to focus, much less study. A large crowd of students gathered and marched, causing the administration to decide to give students the option to take their grades as they were or to stay on campus to take their finals.
I remember getting into the car that May feeling grateful to be going home. The unrest and turmoil was at a high pitch, leaving everyone uneasy. The difficulties in our country were real ad remain in my memory to this day. But my personal sense of relief in having all final tests waived was an opportunity for which I am still grateful.
Looking back, there are always lessons to be learned.
Opportunity oftentimes is clothed in difficulty. The tornado
that destroyed a large portion of a community also brought
many to come to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. The polio that changed my mother’s life drew us closer together as a family, as we all stepped up to do what we could for my mom. From that time on, my love and appreciation for my family has been deep.
Again and again I’ve seen the Lord use difficulties and turn them into powerful opportunities for glory to be given to His name. The traumatic event becomes the life-transforming experience. What was meant to harm us becomes something good in our lives. I won’t say that I understand it, but I have seen and experienced this in my own life.
Chaos can turn lives upside down in seconds. But God is able to use the very thing that we thought we’d never recover from to grow us and teach us to know Him better. The key is in letting Him use it all. As we surrender our days, both the peaceful ones and those filled with chaos, to Him, He works within us His will. Having a faith-filled mindset that looks for the opportunity in the midst of the difficulty draws His goodness to us.
Throughout Scripture we see times where God brought good from hard times. Daniel grew up in a Babylonian culture as a teenager. He stood firm in his faith and his desire to honor the Lord with his life. Again and again, Daniel chose to remember the Lord – and God rescued him.
That lions’ cage was not the first time that Daniel refused to bow to the pressures of his culture. In Daniel 6, King Darius issued a law that the people in his land must only worship and pray to him. The law had been initiated by rivals who were jealous of Daniel’s success. They were familiar with Daniel’s regular prayer times. And Daniel continued his practice of praying to his God – the God of Israel.
The law could not be changed, so with great grief, King Darius had Daniel thrown into the lions’ pit. Such a difficulty is hard for me to even imagine.
Early the next morning, King Darius raced to the pit and called to Daniel. Such joy filled him when he heard Daniel’s voice proclaiming that God had kept him from harm. Once more, God turned what was meant for harm into good. He not only rescued his servant, Daniel, but He also brought glory to Himself.
I find that the acronym of CHAOS as Christ Has All Our Solutions is an easy way to remember that God has power over all of our problems and difficulties. He has us. As we place our complete trust in Him, He reveals His plan and purpose. He will never leave us and never fail us. The wonder of that truth simply leaves me speechless.
So whatever you’re facing right now – whether it appears to be a difficulty or not – remember that behind the scenes God continues to work for you. He loves you and longs for you to know Him personally. God will use any circumstances to strengthen your faith in Him. As He does that, He anchors you so that no matter how difficult the situation is, your faith holds. And He gives you peace as He walks with you through everything.
Like Daniel, we can have confidence that even though the circumstances are out of our hands, God’s promise of care and protection is sure. Time and time again I, along with many others, have experienced God’s amazing keeping power.
You might wonder if you can really trust Him. Your feelings might tell you otherwise. But truth as revealed in God’s word says:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ~ Romans 8:28 (NIV)
This is not a hope. It is not a vague option. It’s an absolute certainty. God uses all things – both the good and the bad – for the good of the one who loves Him. Terrible things do
happen. But God sometimes uses affliction to teach us His
People sometimes take this verse out of context. For instance if our tire blows out on the way home from work, we might think there’s going to be a sale on tires. But that’s not what God’s Word is saying. The “good” referred to in this verse is not necessarily to make us happy and healthy, but to make us holy like Jesus.
We may in fact go through many difficulties in life, but one day we will be like the Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever our circumstances, we can have peace knowing that God has promised to bring about His purpose in our lives.
Finding peace in the chaos involves discovering Him no matter what the circumstance. He draws us to Himself so that we can trust His love and His keeping power, just like Daniel did. Gradually the Lord develops within us an anchor that holds all the time. We live in an increasingly chaotic world, but God is the same – yesterday, today and forever. His truths are eternal and dependable.
Spend time in the quiet reminding yourself of God’s perfect love. Be still, and remember the moments when He has protected you and provided for you. Go over His promises in your mind and open your heart to receive His gift of peace. As you do this again and again, He will create within you a solid faith that is not dependent on circumstances or feelings, but totally rests on the Lord Jesus Christ.
What joy to realize that He is greater than we can possibly imagine, and He is stronger than we’d ever experienced. Through it all, He creates us to be shining lights in a dark world.
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