Do you know what I have learned over the years? There’s nothing that will improve your walk with God and your prayer life more than a big crisis in your life. Let me illustrate.
A priest, a minister and a guru sat discussing the best prayer positions, while a telephone repairman worked nearby. “Kneeling is the best way to pray,” the priest said. “No,” said the minister. “I get the best results standing with my hands outstretched to Heaven.” “You’re both wrong,” the guru said. “The most effective prayer position is lying down on the floor.” The repairman could not contain himself any longer after listening to their conversation. “Hey, fellas,” he interrupted. “The best praying that I ever did was when I was hanging upside down from a telephone pole.”
Someone said, “When you find yourself at the end of a rope, you will find out God lives there.” We’ve been there, at the end of our rope, haven’t we? The further we slide down the rope, the higher the anxiety. Generally, sliding down the rope causes more stress than when you reach the end of the rope.
But God lives at the end of the rope. There you will be a bit battered and bruised but alive. He will come and save you for a higher purpose. You will then, and only then, see the reason, perhaps even a divine reason, for your struggle. You will have grown. It’s not what you become but what you overcome that matters. Most of the time, everything works out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out, it’s not the end. So far, you have survived 100% of your worst days.
You might be thinking, “Ed, Mr. Rogers did not adequately prepare me for the people in my neighborhood.” Yep, that’s right. God wants us to grow up before we grow old. If you caused the struggle, remember God has more “good” things for you in your future than you have ever done “bad” in your past. God redeems and then lifts us. God knows we learn more from our trials than our victories. A mistake that makes you humble is better than an achievement that makes you arrogant. God’s grace humbles us without degrading us and exalts us without inflating us.
Many people in the Bible journeyed through severe trials they didn’t even cause. When they went through their difficulties, they couldn’t understand why it was happening to them. They saw things from their understanding. That’s like trying to describe an elephant by only looking at its trunk. A partial picture, the trunk, is not the whole picture, an elephant. We miss the “but wait, there’s more” part.
Kimberly Henderson of Prov. 31 Ministries (proverbs31.org) enlightens us about the “but wait, there’s more” aspect of their stories.
(God speaking) “I would have pulled Joseph out. Out of that pit. Out of that prison. Out of that pain. And I would have cheated nations out of the one leader God would use to deliver them from famine.
“I would have pulled David out. Out of Saul’s spear-throwing presence. Out of the caves he hid in. Out of the pain of rejection. And I would have cheated Israel out of a God-hearted king.
“I would have pulled Esther out. Out of being snatched from her only family. Out of being placed in a position she never asked for. Out of the path of a vicious, power-hungry foe. And I would have cheated a people out of the woman God would use to save their very lives.
“And I would have pulled Jesus off. Off the cross. Off the road that led to suffering and pain. Off the path that would mean nakedness and beatings, nails and thorns. And I would have cheated the entire world out of a Savior. Out of salvation. Out of an eternity filled with no more suffering and no more pain.”
(Kimberley speaking). “Oh, friend. I want to pull you out. I want to change your path. I want to stop your pain. But right now, I know I would be wrong. I would be out of line. I would be cheating you and cheating the world out of so much good. God knows the good this pain will produce. God knows the beauty this ‘hard’ will grow in you. He’s watching over you. He promises you that you can trust Him, even when it feels like more than you can bear.
“So instead of trying to pull you out, I’m lifting you. I’m kneeling before the Father, and I’m asking Him to give you strength and hope. I’m asking Him to protect you and to move you when the time is right. I believe God is going to use your life in powerful and beautiful ways. Ways that will leave your heart both grateful and thankful for the road you’ve been on.”
Someone special needed this article today. There’s an elephant (bigger picture) attached to the elephant trunk (smaller picture) of your current dilemma. Like Joseph, David, Esther or Jesus, just you wait until you see the big picture.
Could it be that your present distress is for your best, redemptively crafted into a bigger picture by a Father who knows best? Welcome to a bigger world. You’ve got mail! Psalm 27:13-14.