Do you ever feel like you’re the only one that doesn’t have it all together? I know lots of women who confess on social media they are simply a “hot mess” struggling to pull it all together to be a positive influence on their families and in the workplace. Why do we all feel it necessary to put on a good show for the rest of the world? Isn’t it better to just be ourselves, comfortable in our own skin, thankful for what God has provided?
One of my favorite sayings we used often in our Celebrate Recovery ministry over the years was, “God never wastes a hurt.” Think about that one for a moment. God can use everything we experience and make something good out of it. Paul is alluding to this in this passage when he gives credit to how his less than desirable circumstances have helped him spread the Good News!
I don’t think anyone would find it a good thing to be incarcerated. Yet Paul found a silver lining. “And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.” Think of the people Paul encountered while in chains who now have a relationship with God?
We may never know how God is going to use us or our “mistakes” in life. We can simply have the confidence that he will and ask him. If we are seeking God continually, we will see him. Psalm 105:4 says, “Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him.” That’s great wisdom for us!
An image of a phoenix rising from the ashes was recently shared with me. While this mythical bird was originally revered by the Greeks, early Christians saw it as a symbol of the resurrection. As I understand it, to rise like a phoenix means one emerges from a catastrophe stronger, smarter and more powerful. For me, it’s how God never wastes a hurt and uses each negative experience to help us or others grow closer to him.
When we can rely on Jesus during our times of strife, there is hope. You may recall Peter’s words in 1 Peter 5:10, “In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” Our hour of darkness is not forever. We can trust we will be restored.
The bottom line that we see in Paul’s message is to preach the Good News. That’s what really matters. Our own dire circumstances may be exactly what we need to refocus us on our salvation. When people can see how we have overcome some difficulty because of our faith and reliance on God’s provision, it can be encouraging to them.
Like I said, God never wastes a hurt. What are you dealing with right now that is challenging your faith or your focus on Jesus?
Let’s pray … Father God, it’s sometimes hard to stay focused on you with the challenges I face each day. I know others have the same difficulties. Thank you for how you meet me where I am and take my burdens onto yourself. Help me to show others of your mercy, and may my life reflect you and your provision. In Jesus’ name. Amen.