Difficult circumstances can reveal much about a person. A smooth road reveals very little of our character, but when successive potholes mar our otherwise gentle pathway, we begin to get a look at the underside of our lives.

Faced with difficult challenges, it is easy to become preoccupied with what others have done to us, or to groan, "Why does this always happen to me?" But we must not overlook God's purpose in these trials.

Every challenge we face should be seen as a test or a lesson. Difficulties may come our way because God wants us to be involved in the solution — for our benefit — or for the benefit of others. We might also be enduring something so that God can reveal His glory, or display His faithfulness.

God also uses our circumstances to reveal to us the condition of our hearts, or to allow us to face the consequences for something we've allowed to take root in our lives, at our jobs, or in our families. If in these moments we avoid self-examination, we may find that our circumstances become more challenging and we become increasingly frustrated.

Life can be difficult, and as disciples of the crucified and risen Christ, what we face can be particularly challenging. This is why it is vitally important that we yield ourselves — daily, hourly, minute-by-minute — to God's Holy Spirit. Paul put it this way in 2 Corinthians, "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (12:10).

God is not impressed with our ability to handle things. When we meet with God in the morning and throughout the day, it becomes natural to bring our unexpected circumstances to Him as well. As we share our frustrations with Him, we can ask Him to overcome our emotions, and give us wisdom to know how to respond to our challenges.

As we open our lives to Him, He will turn our challenges into opportunities to become more like Him. Then we can have a godly expectation that something good can come out of our trouble (see James 1:2-5).


Excerpted from My Journal, a monthly devotional magazine from Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef.

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