Life can take unexpected turns or expected turns that still throw your world in confusion and leave you feeling lost. No matter how prepared we are, we still find ourselves not ready to handle what comes our way. In times like these, it’s hard to convince ourselves of the truth found in God’s Word. But as I think about circumstances that tempt me to question God’s plan, I turn to Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose”. It’s not some things. It’s not most things. It’s all things.

We all face circumstances or watch others face circumstances that make us wonder how they could possibly be a part of God’s plan. But thank the Lord for His divine vision that sees way beyond our finite minds can fathom. Sometimes the reason we don’t see the good in bad circumstances is because we aren’t really looking. We are so caught up in the tragedy that we neglect the deeper purpose for experiencing it. We focus on pain and heartaches rather than searching for God’s purpose in it all. When we do this, we so often miss the wonderful opportunity to grow.

Take a look at Paul’s life. This man was hit left and right with bad circumstances. From jail to a “thorn in his flesh”, it seems he never got a break from his troubles. But Paul never focused on these troubles did he? Instead, he turned them around and proved to us that God does indeed work all things together for the good of those who love Him. He didn’t gripe and complain and sulk about being in jail, but he used that time to grow closer to God. While in jail, he saw the opportunity to write words from God of encouragement and truth that people continue to read to strengthen their spirits. We were never told what this “thorn in his flesh” was, but we were given such beautiful words of how he overcame it. Once again he used his pain to strengthen his walk in Christ Jesus. He responded to this “thorn in his flesh” by letting God’s power be revealed all the more through his weakness.

We all have our own thorns in our flesh. Some of us have our own forms of prison. The question is how will you respond? Will you let the expected and unexpected troubles of this world, from death to loss of a job to sickness, occupy your thoughts and draw you away from the Lord? Or will you look beyond the scope of human reasoning and trust that God has a greater plan for your pain? Will you allow your suffering to draw you closer to God? Will you allow God to reveal His power through your weakness?

It’s all up to us. We choose how we respond to circumstances. Don’t miss the opportunity for growth by choosing to focus on your situation. I challenge you to seek God’s wisdom and understanding in His Word and most importantly through prayer. Ask Him to reveal His greater purpose for your suffering and look for ways that you can use it for His glory. Again, God’s knowledge goes well beyond ours and He doesn’t allow suffering without a purpose. Seek that purpose. Look beyond yourself and maybe you will find the opportunity to help someone going through a similar situation. Maybe you will experience His presence like never before. Growth is a precious thing, don’t miss it.

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