BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS

Jan
2018
06

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 “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)

I once heard a story about a man who was shipwrecked. After the sole survivor reached a small, uninhabited island, he prayed for God to rescue him.  But help didn’t come. As he began to resign his fate, he labored for many hours building a hut out of driftwood for protection from the elements. One day as he returned from hunting for food, he saw smoke rising to the sky in the distance. As he drew close, he found his hut in flames.  Angrily he cried out – God, how could You do this to me?” The next morning, he was awakened by rescuers. “How did you know I was here?” he asked. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied. The story serves to remind us that when we find ourselves seemingly lost and alone from the turbulence of life, we always have someone by our side to calm the storm. One day, Jesus was in a boat with His disciples when they found themselves in the midst of a turbulent storm. “Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, ‘Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?’ When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Silence! Be still!’ Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, ‘Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ The disciples were absolutely terrified. ‘Who is this man?’ they asked each other. ‘Even the wind and waves obey him!’” (Mark 4:36-41).

One early January day in 1809, Louis Braille was born in a small French town. The fourth child of Simon and Monique Braille appeared to be quite frail, so his parents arranged to have him baptized right away. The early death that they had feared for him did not happen. Louis quickly showed himself to be a bright and curious lad often playing in his father’s leather workshop. One day, the three-year-old attempted to use an awl to punch holes in a piece of leather when the tool slipped and caught his eye. The eye could not be saved, became infected, and soon spread to his other eye. From that point on, Louis Braille was blind. A local priest saw potential in the boy and began to teach him.  When he was ten, he was enrolled in a special school for blind children in Paris. There at the age of 12, he met Charles Barbier, a former soldier, who had invented a system of raised dots which he hoped would enable silent communication for the solders at night. The army determined the system was too complex, so Barbier thought the school for the blind might have use for it. Braille was fascinated by this, so he dedicated all of his time to refining it. Over the next few years, he organized the raised letters into an alphabet. By the time he was 15, Louis had created the world’s first really good structure for blind reading. At the young age of 43, as he lay dying of tuberculosis – he said, “God was pleased to hold before my eyes the dazzling splendors of eternal hope. After that, doesn’t it seem that nothing more could keep me bound to the earth?”

The Apostle Paul said, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28). We should pay careful attention to read this verse in its entirety. Note that this passage does not promise that all things work together for the good of all people. It is careful to point out that we must love Him and be called by Him. We all know of situations where things work out well for some who seem to not know God at all. But we have to remember, we usually only know a small part of the story. Perhaps God is giving that person a second chance, or maybe He didn’t have His hand in it at all. But for those who know and love Him, we can be certain He allows circumstances to occur. Rick Warren says: “But God can draw good out of each event in your life. That means every single event, no matter how dark or shameful or how guilty or bitter you feel about it, God can bring good out of it. He can work for your good. The Bible doesn’t say all things are good. Not all things in the world are good. There’s a lot of bad. But it does say that all things work together for good for those who give God all the pieces and say, ‘Will you work good out of this?’ God will do it. He has an appointed time for everything.” Just as one cannot judge a book by its cover… neither should we predict an end at its beginning. but rather judge its beginning only at its end.

REFLECTION: In what situation do you need to ask God to work for your good? Is there anything that keeps you from asking God for His help? What are the most difficult trials that you have been through? In what ways might God be working them for an eventual good ending?

A NEW LOOKUP  DEVOTION IS UPLOADED EACH WEEK. THE NEXT WEEKLY POSTING WILL BE ON SAT., JANUARY 13, 2018.  COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED.

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