By Pastor Joe Romeo
Devotion: Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. . . . But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen (2 Tim. 4:9–10, 17–18).
Life is full of detours. But in the midst of the chaos, God is making something beautiful. Problem is, we can’t see it while it’s happening; we only glimpse it in hindsight. Navigating the twists and turns without being swallowed up by a spirit of cynicism is the supreme challenge, if you ask me.
If I had my way, life and ministry would consist of one tidal wave of success after another. And by “success” I mean that everything I do goes smoothly and everyone always thinks nice, happy thoughts of me continually. In the verses above, however, Paul informs us that pain and betrayal are part of life and ministry in a fallen world. God has chosen to allow these moments to come into our lives to shape us into the person he wants us to become.
As I ponder Paul’s words, three thoughts come to mind.
God is telling a story. Not only is God your Creator, he’s your Author; he’s writing a story with your life. Not only is he the supreme Architect of all the lives of all people, he’s the supreme Architect of your life as well. When I realize that God is telling a story with my life, I am more apt to pay attention to the pain he’s allowed into my story and ask what he wants to teach me. I ask, “Why have you allowed this, God? What do you want me to learn? What are you trying to teach me?”
God is in control. When I’m in my right mind, I pull from Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28 and remind myself that, although the pain someone has inflicted on me was not right, God must have allowed it; and if he allowed it, there must be a purpose for it. If I had my druthers, I would always have a trouble-free life. But thankfully God knows what I need better than I do. God will do what is necessary to draw me into closer communion with himself. And if you’re anything like me, your prayer life is stronger and more consistent in times of trial.
How you respond is important. When someone hurts me, I’m faced with a choice. I can seek revenge or I can respond in love. Jesus tells me to love my enemies and pray for them (Matt. 5:43–45). Similarly, Proverbs 25:21–22 reads: “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”
When we respond in this way, we can begin to write a new story into our lives and into the lives of others. We can serve as signs and agents of the new creation.
Today, thank God that he is in control of all things, including your life. Because he’s faithful, you can trust him. Because he promises to work all things together for your good, be on the lookout for how he might do that in your life today. Remember: He will not fail you.