Tag Archives: trials

Always On My Mind

IMG_0127Jon’s been to the sedation dentist five times in the past eight months. We still have two to three more appointments to finish all the repair needed and then there’s the question of whether there’ll be more in the future.

There’s always this thing about Jon’s future (and not just his teeth). It wants to hang over me like a dark cloud, more than I care to admit.

I don’t worry about our son, David. I think about him everyday, but never worry about him. But Jon? Oh yes! I worry about him plenty and have for many years. The older he and I get, the more it weighs on me. Maybe this is normal for parents of kids who need care and supervision their entire lives. Is it? Or am I alone here?

I can be having a conversation with you and in the far recesses of my mind I’m thinking about Jon. I can be at the grocery store, in a church service, on a cruise, visiting my grandson; I can be anywhere doing anything and Jon is present in my thoughts. He’s always on my mind.

Other’s tell me, “Well you shouldn’t worry so much. It’s in God’s hands.”
I smile and reply, “Thank you, that’s true. You’re right. Pray for me.”
But honestly, what I sometimes want to shout is, “That’s easy for you to say!”

So how do we trust God in situations that continue day after day, year after year? It’s real. It’s in our face every morning when we rise and every night when we lay down. How do we find peace and contentment in this place? Can I ever reach a place of total surrender here? Can I ever mature enough in God to never feel this anxiety again, even when nothing has changed? Can I get through a day without having to lay it down at  Jesus’ feet again and again? Today. Tomorrow. And the next day. Or the one after that.

I don’t know. I want to. Worry wears me out. It’s exhausting.

Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34) but in context, He was talking about material goods needed for life: food, drink and clothes. He wasn’t talking about my son. Apostle Paul also wrote in Philippians 4:12 that he had “learned the secret of being content in every situation” but also related this to material needs; hunger, abundance and lack. He wasn’t talking about Jon either.

So I look at these:

“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you..” Psalm 55:22.

“Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything.” (Apostle Paul) Philippians 4:6.

“..Cast all your anxiety on Him (Jesus) because He cares for you” 1 Peter 5:6-8.

“Come to Me (Jesus) all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (Jesus) John 14:27.

I read these promises and realize this worry free existence we hope for, may NOT be a ‘I’ve finally arrived’ deal. I wonder if we ever reach the pinnacle of ability to sail through a trouble filled earth life without angst. As believers in an all powerful and involved-in-life God, maybe we do ourselves and others a disservice when we expect to reach a super spiritual level of never worrying about anything, ever again, this side of Heaven.

We read our Bibles and cliché these scriptures into meaninglessness, beating ourselves up for failing and feeling sub-standard for not measuring up.

Could it be these promises aren’t about removing worry from life permanently, but instructions for surrendering it daily? If “faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen,” (Hebrews 11:1) then everyday I need to lay what I hope for at His feet. Everyday while I wait ‘for what I have not yet seen’ I need His strength to battle the enemies of worry, doubt and fear.

Everyday I pray.
Everyday I cast my anxiety on Him.
Everyday I come to Him for peace and rest.
Everyday I run to Him with my problems.
Everyday I choose to trust Him.
Everyday I believe He loves me.
Everyday I lay my questions, concerns, fears and worries before Him.
Everyday I surrender Jon, his future and mine, back to Him.

Today. Tomorrow. And the next day. And the one after that.

The better question to ask is this: “Can trouble or problems or persecution separate us from His love?” Romans 8:35

When I remember I’m loved, it’s easier to let go.
When I remember I’m loved, I worry less.
When I remember I’m loved, I breathe deeper.
When I remember I’m loved, I surrender completely.

“But in all these troubles we have complete victory through God, who has shown His love for us. Yes, I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love..” Romans 8:38.

In my daily surrender, God’s love overtakes my worry. When His love is always on my mind, His love always wins.

“..nothing in the whole created world—will ever be able to separate us from the love God has shown us in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 8:39.

Nothing. Will ever!

Not Today. Tomorrow. And the next day. Or the one after that. Hallelujah!

It’s Not All About You!

reality checkOur story inspires people. At least, that’s what I hear. That’s what some tell me. I find that fascinating because it usually doesn’t feel the least bit inspiring while living it. It often feels frustrating, lonely, difficult, challenging, frightening and exhausting.

But there’s one thing I’ve figured out about my wise, loving and mysterious God. He enjoys showing up in the middle of our mess! He loves to partner with us to make Himself known.

If releasing the Hebrews from bondage was God’s only objective, He could have swooped into Egypt all by Himself and in any number of ways, set the Israelite nation free.

So what was the long, drawn out process all about? The negotiating, petitioning, plagues and frustration. Moses was only doing what God had instructed. Why wasn’t it easier? Scholars estimate the duration of all the plagues, until Israel’s release, was at least two months and possibly up to a year.

The ancient Egyptians worshiped over 2000 deities. They had a god associated with every aspect of life; agriculture, fertility, water, rain, animals, death, insects, earth, sky, sun and moon. Even Pharaoh was thought to be a god.

While delivering Israel, Jehovah was also trying to reveal Himself to the nation of Egypt as the One True God. The only way to do so was to prove His power greater over all the gods they imagined. Each plague addressed, at least one and maybe more, of their gods.

In His mercy, God orchestrated this series of events to access the heart of Pharaoh and give him opportunity to change. But Pharaoh continually hardened his heart. The ‘ahh-hah’ moment never came. Pharaoh never accepted the revelation of a real God who cared enough about him to speak loudly and clearly, “I AM THE LORD!” not all these other things you worship.

God will go out of His way to make Himself known. If only one Egyptian came to know the One True God in the middle of Israel’s mess, it was worth the struggle. Apparently some believed, because Exodus 12:37&38 tells us, “That night the people of Israel left Rameses and started for Succoth..a rabble of non-Israelites went with them..”

not about meThis thing you’re going through right now might not be only for or about you. It might be so others see God’s power at work in you while He is simultaneously orchestrating your solution.

Don’t be discouraged because your rescue, problem or promise is taking so long. Be patient. Trust the process. Remember others are watching.

Someone else could be changed because of your faith and trust in a time of trouble. Someone else could see God’s power at work in your struggle and have that ‘ahh-hah’ moment.

“When I raise my powerful hand and bring out the Israelites, the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord” Exodus 7:5.

Someone else could come to know He Is Lord, because of what He is doing for YOU!

Exodus 9:29 “All right,” Moses replied. “As soon as I leave the city, I will lift my hands and pray to the Lord. Then the thunder and hail will stop, and you will know that the earth belongs to the Lord.”

Exodus 14:4 “I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord!”

Exodus 14:17&18 “My great glory will be displayed through Pharaoh and his troops, his chariots, and his charioteers. When my glory is displayed through them, all Egypt will see my glory and know that I am the Lord!”

Jon’s Octopus

Basic CMYKJon was fourteen years old when we visited Catalina Island off the coast of California. Our friends, Earl and Pat, had moved to the island from Maine when Earl took the job of maintenance overseer for a large girl scout camp located there.

Summers at the beachfront camp were noisy and chaotic, with hundreds of girls and camp counselors arriving constantly in one to two week shifts. But winters were long, quiet and lonely; a good time to visit, and since we were homeschooling, the boys and I planned a six week stay during the winter of 1994.

From the day he arrived, Jon decided Earl (or Pa, as the boys and every other ‘grandchild’, related or not, called him) was going to take him fishing in the ocean.

“And I’m going to catch an octopus,” he declared to all of us.

“It’s really hard to catch an octopus Jon,” Pa told him, “they live way, way down, too deep in the water to get on your hook.”

But every day Jon kept insisting and reminding us, as soon as Pa took him fishing, he was going to catch an octopus.

We were there several weeks before Earl finally had a free day for fishing. They packed a lunch and eagerly climbed into the boat along with Jon’s younger brother, David, and a neighbor, Ken, the caretaker of the yacht club located a few miles down the beach.

Jon told Pa and Ken as they left the shore, “I’m going to catch an octopus now.” Ken replied with the same explanation Pa had given.

Everyone was trying to lessen the disappointment that was coming, in spite of Jon’s insistence.

They left in the morning and in late afternoon I heard Jon running up the beach to the house shouting, “Mom, Mom, I caught an octopus! Mom! I caught an octopus!”

I went outside to meet him. He was grinning from ear to ear. Jon has always had a huge and slightly quirky imagination so I figured he was fantasizing in his head again, pretending he had caught one because it’s what he’d wanted so much.

Earl met me halfway to the dock with a giant smile on his face. “Well, you’re never going to believe it, I still can’t, but Jon caught an octopus today.”

“You’re kidding.” I was stunned and delighted all at the same time. “I thought you said it was impossible?”

“I’ve been fishing in the ocean for years and never have I or anyone I know, caught an octopus. “ Earl looked as amazed as I felt.

Turns out they were a few miles off shore when Jon felt a tug on his line. He reeled it in and to everyone’s (but his) surprise there was a baby octopus clinging to the string.

Jon got his octopus!

That was twenty one years ago.

And I’ve never forgotten it.

When I read, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7), or “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4), I’m reminded of a God who cares enough about a fourteen year old special needs kid to send a baby octopus from the depths of the ocean to his fishing line.

In the hard times, circumstances and struggles of life, when you feel as if God isn’t listening and He doesn’t care about you or the details of your situation…

..remember Jon and his octopus.

God knows.

He sees.

He understands.

He cares.

Keep believing for the impossible.

Keep trusting.

You never know what could be surfacing from the depths of despair, just for you.

The Blame Game – My Special Education, Lesson #12

Jon Me IHOP 11-2015It’s no one’s fault,” the doctor in my hospital room said, the morning after our son was born. “These things just happen sometimes.”

Our newborn baby had Down syndrome and as the doctor began to explain the possible long term outcomes for him and our family, my heart raced in panic. My mind filled with a cloud of fear.

“NO! This can’t be happening! Not to my baby! Not to me! Not to us!”

Isn’t that how it goes when we’re faced with circumstances beyond our control? When our carefully thought out plans are suddenly ambushed?

We’re cruising through life, a few bumps and glitches here and there, but nothing we can’t handle. Then suddenly..Wham!!

We find, not just the proverbial rug pulled out from under us, but the floor too. The ground has just opened up and swallowed us whole!

And when we’re done free-falling, we have to find a reason. The ‘Why’ must be answered. It has to be SomeOne’s or SomeThing’s fault.

A friend sent me a card once that read, “Life is all about how you handle Plan B.”

Plan A is what you want. Plan B is what you get and I wasn’t dealing well at all, with what I got.

I fell into absolute despair trying to figure out what I did to cause my child’s disability. For months it filled every waking moment and many sleepless nights. Those pesky, “I should have” and “I shouldn’t have” scenarios, plagued my thoughts constantly.

There was plenty of help in the guilt department from well meaning folks. Everything from, “You should of eaten more potatoes while you were pregnant,” (no kidding) to “You must have bad sin hiding someplace in your life for God to punish you like this.”

Apparently there was a rash of babies born with Down syndrome at the time. In an attempt to find a common denominator (or something to blame) the Department of Health and Human Services for the State of New York called when Jon was about a month old to ask if they could survey me.

“Do you live near power lines? How long have you lived there?”
“Have you ever taken drugs? Did you take drugs while pregnant?”
“How often do you drink alcohol? Never? Occasionally? Once a week? Everyday?”
“What kind of make up do you wear? What brand of laundry detergent do you use?”

After an hour long barrage of questions, I hung up the phone more convinced than ever I was the cause of my son’s diagnosis.

When I finally gave up blaming myself I turned my angst on God. He could have prevented this but didn’t. It was His fault and I was mad. What kind of God did I believe in anyway? An overwhelmingly devastating question for me, since we were fresh out of Bible college and my husband was just beginning a lifetime of pastoral ministry.

Though it seemed artificial to be so angry at God when my husband was a pastor, and I, the pastor’s wife, anger was all that made sense at the time. It was the easiest life raft to cling to.

We see it in the daily news continuously. A crisis occurs, a shooting, tornado, flood, fire, mudslide, plane crash, death, violence or destruction. The talking heads start in, opinion-ating, analyzing, philosophizing and finally conclude with, “Something must be done to make sure this never happens again.”

Either people want to believe they have this much power, this much control, or placing blame is just a coping mechanism for the unanswerable and unexplained.

Sometimes there is someone to blame but more often not. Sometimes stuff just happens because we live on a fallen, broken and sin cursed planet.

Finding possible solutions is useful but the blame game often goes around in a monotonous circle until we are divided and estranged, from each other and from our only source of hope. God.

It seems God is blamed for most everything that goes wrong, by people who barely acknowledge His existence the rest of the time or bother to thank Him for any of the good and right in life.

In his book, Reframe. From the God We’ve Made to the God With Us, Brian Hardin said it this way: “We don’t usually start with God, but if we can’t find an answer we often end up there. God has become the cosmic trash heap for all humankind’s unexplainable suffering. He’s apparently got His hands in everything from tornadoes to human trafficking. From cancer to the reason the car wouldn’t start this morning. And this is the God we’re supposed to be in a relationship with?”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: I can’t control everything that happens to me, to those I care about or to the world at large. And I don’t have to figure everything out, don’t have to know all the answers.

I only have to admit and own what I’m responsible for and trust my Heavenly Daddy has a greater plan and purpose than I can see.

He will bring justice in His time. He will make everything right in His way and acceptance of this truth, deep in my heart and soul, not just my head, brings peace in a frenzied world.

And for all my initial distress, despair, crying, sighing, shouting and blaming, my son turned out to be a blessing, a unique treasure God values and loves. Someone who is always teaching me the art of selflessness, drawing me closer to the heart of my Father.

I eventually laid it down, the miserable scrutinizing, finger pointing and fretting over who or what was at fault. It was exhausting and served no purpose. Blaming drained life from me and returned nothing.

The blame game was over and I lost.

But I’m no longer a sore looser, just a grateful one.

 
Job 40:1-5 The Lord said to Job: “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” Then Job answered the Lord: “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more.”

Romans 9:20 “Who do you think you are to talk back to God like that? Can an object that was made say to its maker, “Why did you make me like this?”

John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Lessons From A Hurricane Summer

The year 2004 was what I call Florida’s Hurricane Summer. Four hurricanes plagued us in a span of about six weeks.Hurricane Charlie damage 8-04 042

Exactly ten years ago today, Hurricane Charley, the storm that initiated the chaos, ripped through Central Florida. We were living in Kissimmee at the time in an older neighborhood with large lot lines. Our unique property, tucked away in a corner, consisted of two acres, a ranch style three bedroom, two bath main house with a pool and a detached, cozy one bedroom, one bath guest/in-law house out back, several sheds and a separate screen room where our hot tub lived.Hurricane Charlie damage 8-04 014

The property backed up to a conservation area and was surrounded by lush jungle on all sides; thick Florida flora of wild palm trees, palmetto, gigantic oaks and hanging moss. Some people thought it scary and worried about what lived in those woods. Not me. I thought it was beautiful, until Charley. We moved to Florida in 2001 and had never been through a hurricane before, but as I looked out at all those trees, I began to wonder what they could crush if they started falling.

The weather predictors vacillated for days over the path Charley might take, but when we finally knew the storm was coming for us, our family gathered in a tight circle and prayed for protection. Jon disappeared into his room and taped a paint stick perpendicular onto a yard stick forming a cross. He came back out and leaned it against the patio doors, his way of demonstrating God’s watchful eye over us. He then went back in his room and refused to come out. I found him lying stiff as a board on his bed wearing a bicycle helmet, a jacket, and a pair of boots, clutching a flashlight.

We’d had a new roof put on the main house a few months prior and fortunately never lost one shingle, unlike many of our neighbors, but the contractor forgot to nail down the three brand new skylights he installed and they blew off as Charley came barreling through. Rain was pouring into both bathrooms and the breakfast nook and it seemed as if the wind would lift the roof right off the walls.

I ran to the storage closet and found some old plastic shower curtains and a large piece of clear vinyl, while Mike went out in the garage to retrieve his staple gun and an eight foot ladder. Wind was battering the garage door so hard he thought it would blow in. He quickly climbed over potted plants and outdoor furniture we had brought in from outside, to get to his tool chest. As hurricane rookies, we never thought about keeping the tool chest where it could easily be reached.

Our son David, who was fourteen at the time, climbed up into those wide open ceiling holes in the middle of the storm to staple the plastic down. The pool solar panels had come loose and were flopping back and forth on the roof above his head. I held the ladder and prayed like a crazy woman for the panels to not slam through the roof opening and hit my son in the head, while the wind and rain roared around us.Hurricane Charlie damage 8-04 017

By the time the storm passed it was dark outside and the power was down. We decided to wait until morning to go outside and access the damage. Neighbors went door to door with flashlights making sure everyone was alright.  We didn’t sleep much that night or the nights that followed

It was a crazy, difficult time for many here in Central Florida. Our electricity was out for two weeks in the middle of Florida’s hottest summer month.Guest house access blocked & smashed shed

But I learned to be grateful for things we Americans take for granted everyday:

Water that comes from our faucets for bathing, cooking, cleaning, drinking. Without electric, our well pump was off and we had no running water in either house. I discovered how basic water is to human existence and realized I could live without many of the things we consider essential. I never want to be without water again. Every morning when I get in the shower and warm water runs over my sleepy body, I thank God for running water.

Air conditioning in a summer climate that reaches into the mid to high nineties with humidity levels to match. The sheets felt wet when we lay down on them at night. The spices in the cupboard clumped into one large blob in their containers. We never sweat so much in all our born days. We all smelled bad, looked bad and were hot and miserable. I thank God every summer for AC.

Garbage collectors became the most important people in the world. When all the food in the fridge spoils and there’s no trash collector to come haul it away, it’s not pleasant or pretty. Every week when I hear the trash truck stop at the end of our driveway I am grateful for those who do this vital work.

Uninterrupted family time. Without TV, computers, phones or modern distractions we spent time playing table games by candle light, reading, talking and working together. David found Mike’s old guitar in a closet and a hurricane catapulted our son’s love affair with music into overdrive. He now plays, writes and arranges his own songs (listen at daveconnis.com).

Safety of family and friends. Trees went down all around us, but the only structure crushed under a falling tree was one shed. It took months of cutting and clearing to rid our property of broken and fallen trees but my family, friends and neighbors were safe. No one was hurt. I am thankful everyday for the health and safety of those I love.David's tree removal service

Looking back on it ten years later, Hurricane Charley is like the opening line in Charles Dickens’ famous novel, A Tale of Two Cities.

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

I hope to never go through a storm like that again but here’s what I know, storms of all kind come and go. No one likes them, but we learn our greatest lessons in the middle of them. If we hang on through the blustering wind and pelting rain, pray and trust God we come out on the other side..

Humbler

Wiser

More thankful

And a little more storm proof than we were before.

Nahum 1:7 (ESV) The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.

Matthew 8:23-27 (ESV) And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

2 Corinthians 4:17 (ESV) For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison

 

 

Lessons From My Garden-The Other Side of Darkness

Darkness.

I’ve experienced it. You have too. 

Maybe you’re there right now, a time in life when everything safe, secure and comfortable has been uprooted. 

Turned upside down. 

Night may have descended in the middle of a bright sunny day with a phone call, a diagnosis, a betrayal, a loss, a failure. 

In an instant, you are overshadowed by gloom and despair and not one glimmer of light flickers to guide you to a solution. 

You feel trapped in a dark place with no way out. Abandoned. Alone. Afraid.

What are we to do in the darkness, through the long night of struggle and heartache?

I’ve noticed several amazing plants in my garden that illustrate the answer to this question in different ways:

PRAY 

The Cassia tree, abundant in clusters of symmetrical leaves, is covered with bright yellow flowers in Autumn. A small shrub-like tree, it grows twelve to fifteen feet tall. 

Sulpher butterflies, the large yellow-winged variety, are attracted to the Cassia and will rest on its branches even when it isn’t flowering.

An amazing characteristic of the Cassia is how it folds its leaves together at dusk, as if putting little hands together for bedtime prayers.

The Cassia “prays” all night and when the sun rises in the morning the leaves open to another day of butterfly welcoming.

A life without prayer is a life without light. What better time to pray than when we can’t see where we’re going?

The lyric to an old hymn put it this way:

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness
;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

PRAISE

The Four O’clock plant has small trumpet-like flowers that remain closed during the day. 

When evening comes they open, displaying a mass of color across the top of their waxy stems and releasing a mild, sweet fragrance into the night. 

As we sit on the patio in the evening the delightful scent is carried to us on the breeze. This flower puts on its greatest display in the darkness. 

The Four O’clock is not concerned about the setting sun. It was made to rejoice in the night.

Paul and Silas, in the darkness of a dreary prison cell (Acts 16), praised God in the middle of the night, the fragrance of their worship carried on the wind of the Holy Spirit to God’s throne.

Their praise brought the answer to their problem and set them free.

PATIENCE

The Poinsettia plant is famous for its beautiful red Christmas blooms. 

The blooms are actually the plant’s green leaves which slowly transform into a brilliant red color as the daylight hours shorten and nights grow longer.

Poinsettias need the long dark nights of autumn and early winter, to convert leaves from green to red. The process takes about six to eight weeks but the plant can only produce the bright red color we all enjoy, in darkness.

The night seasons of life are mostly unwelcome, but they create something beneficial in us and for others, if we let them. 

James 1:3-4, shows us that these troubles test our faith and produce patience. Once patience has done its work, we will be complete and have everything we need for a God-filled life.

Some of the greatest transformative experiences occur in the night seasons of life. 

My plants never fuss in the darkness but yield to its process. When the sun rises in the morning, they are glorious to behold.

Keep praying and praising and be patient.

You’ll be surprised by the beauty found on the other side of darkness, when the light shines again.

Job 23: 8 Behold, I go forward, but he [God] is not there,and backward, but I do not perceive him; on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him. But heknows the way that I take; when he hastried me, I will come out as gold.

Psalm 18: 6 But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry reached his ears.

Psalm 120:1 In my distress I cried to the Lord, and He heard me.

Isaiah 50:10 Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely upon his God.

Crash Course


Joseph came from a family line of wealthy livestock herders all the way back to his great-great grandfather, Abraham. How was a sheep herder going to learn the administration skills needed to be second in command to the nation of Egypt? How was he going to go from the pasture to the palace? 

Joseph was favored, handpicked by God for something big and when his jealous brothers threw him into that pit they didn’t realize they were catapulting Joseph into the very thing they hated him for. On the far end of their hatred and jealousy was Joseph’s destiny one they would eventually bow down to just as Joseph’s dream had revealed.

As a slave in Potiphar’s house and the General Manager of a prison he learned the administration skills he was going to need to bring an entire nation through one of the worst famines ever recorded in the known world at that time. He learned protocol for management: how to handle business with all of its accounting and transactions. He learned how to deal with difficult people, criticism, unfair accusation and temptation.  He also learned about forgiveness, mercy, humility, patience and endurance. Joseph received a crash course in Preparation For Royalty 101. School was in session and the curriculum was difficult!

Are you in a place you find uncomfortable, don’t understand or even despise right now? Would you think about it in a different way today? Maybe this time and place is preparation for the greater thing God has planned up ahead. Don’t waste it! Look around, pay attention, apply yourself to wisdom, learn and grow there and in due time you will be promoted from what you don’t see into the clarity of your task and fulfilling purpose. 

God is working in every difficult situation of your life for your good, so work with Him, not against Him, and be encouraged!

 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping.But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. Genesis 45:4-8

(Read the entire amazing story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50).