Friday, February 02, 2001

"OK, This is Going to be Good!!"

Have you ever run up against a mountainous difficulty and asked the question, "Why does life have to be so hard?" Just what I thought, it's unanimous. Life is full of hard times and ongoing struggles. That doesn’t make life bad, it makes life, well… life. I have an idea for responding to difficulties that I think can help us all. I ran across it while looking at the following story.

The guys had been with their teacher long enough to know he was something special. He didn’t act or react like others. He was, to put it in 70's terms, out of this world. So when the class was trying to get away for some R & R and were chased by folks clamoring for more from the teacher, it didn’t surprise the guys that their teacher postponed their break. He had compassion on the crowds and spoke to them. In fact He taught and he taught. All morning, through the afternoon and was heading into evening. Finally, one of the guys went to the teacher with a helpful hint, "You’d better send these folks away to get some food before it gets dark because there is NO PLACE around here to get food, the people have not eaten all day, and the sun is wearing them out." Satisfied that they had given the Teacher the proper advice, the guys waited for him to shoo the crowds home. Surprise.

The teacher’s words to the guys turned them pale. "You give them something to eat." Their thoughts are not recorded in the chronicles of history, but it doesn’t take much imagination to realize their thoughts went something like, "Whoa! There are some 5,000 men here and thousands more women and children. Is he crazy? Has he been in the sun too long? Maybe we’d better find some shade and let him come back to earth. He has no idea what he is saying." After the guys pulled themselves back together, out of their mouths came these words, "Eight months’ salary wouldn’t buy enough food for everyone to have a bite. Are we supposed to spend that kind of money to buy food." Wrong answer. Very wrong.

The guys had been with the teacher long enough to know better. They'd watched him heal every kind of physical ailment, teach with extraordinary power, answer questions that had stumped scholars for centuries, and even raised a girl from the dead. So what was it about his instructions to feed the crowd that sent them reeling? Had they not been paying attention? Did they think manufacturing food was harder than raising the dead? Did they just have short memories? No, I think they simply panicked and reverted to seeing the situation through their human lens instead of viewing it through the supernatural lens of their teacher.

Now, here’s where the new way of responding comes in. Instead of panic and citing all the reasons the situation was impossible, the guys should have said…


The teacher did not actually expect the guys to come up with food for over 10,000 mouths. He was testing them. What he really wanted them to do was realize they were facing the impossible, turn back to him and ask, "How?" Then he could show them the way to overcome the difficulty. He was offering the chance to participate in a miracle instead of standing on the sidelines as spectators. But, NOOO. Not only did they land as spectators, but red faced ones at that. The teacher took the few biscuits and small fish they did have, prayed over them, handed them to the guys to pass out to the crowds, everyone ate until they were stuffed, AND, they collected 12 baskets full of leftovers. There never was a need to panic. The teacher had something wonderful in mind.


When we face difficult situations, it is not because God turned His head and they slipped through. It is because He has something wonderful in mind. Every impossible situation is an opportunity to watch God work. That's why our response to tough times ought to be, "OK, THIS IS GOING TO BE GOOD!!" If God has allowed it, He is going to use it. There never is a need to panic, God has something wonderful in mind.

And here's the best part -- the more difficult the difficulty, the louder we ought to say it because the wonder will be even greater. If you're facing a hill you might whisper "OK, THIS IS GOING TO BE GOOD!!" because the miracle will be nice. But if you're looking at Mount Everest, you'll want to scream "OK, THIS IS GOING TO BE GOOD!!" because whatever God is up to is going to be huge.

If Jesus had produced a loaf of bread, it would have been a miracle and it would have been nice. But when He fed thousands with a handful of muffins and sardines, it was overwhelming. God offers us the opportunity to participate in the miracle if we turn to Him and ask, "How?" He does not expect us to handle it ourselves, but to listen to instructions and follow His lead. When we do so, we not only experience what God has in mind but it makes us stronger, wiser, more full of faith in preparation for the next difficulty.

The other option is to panic and see the situation through our purely human lens. That's how we end up spectators and wonder why God things happen to other people and not us. It's also why our bodies and relationships get damaged by the stress. Overall it really isn't much fun. Think of those pathetic disciples each carrying a basketful of leftovers as Jesus dismissed the crowds, every step reminding them of what could have been.

So remember – the next time you hit a rough patch of road, the right response is, (let's all say it together) …


And then watch and listen for the wonder of God being worked out.

"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)

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." James 1:2-5 (NIV)

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