Smooth Sands…

By JMathis

I am learning that the problems that come rolling into my shoreline are my opportunities. Opportunities to hone my steely resolve; opportunities to chisel my grit.

Oftentimes, when these “opportunities” are disguised as setbacks, my shoreline becomes cluttered with the debris of itchy seaweed and sharp hypodermic needles.

As I yearn for calming, Zen-like shorelines, I realize that it is the chaos of the storms and the violence of all this constant flooding, which create the smooth sands that bring relief to my aching soul.

Smooth sands comprised not of just one sand particle, but of countless grains representing the friends and family who have allied by my side during the hurricanes of my life.

When I see these grains of sand exponentially multiplying across the shoreline, I realize that I am never alone when confronting life’s calamities. God has given me a vast army from which to draw strength, regroup and charge even harder against the gale force winds of the enemy.

This is the part about problems that strengthen my character and resolve. Knowing that I have legions around me, supporting and encouraging me to finish my exhaustive swim to the shoreline–giving me the courage to hold onto the truths of my Creator when all around me is collapsing.

Problems: you may come charging into my shoreline, but you will not prevail. I stand against you with the might of the Almighty God and the support of all those He has strategically placed around me.

Problems: I reclaim my sandy shoreline. My resolve is strengthened and my character withstands attack. I hold fast knowing that when you leave, only smooth sands remain.

The smooth sands of time, the smooth sands of friendship, the smooth sands of relief.

Thank You, Lord, for smooth sands.

Thanking God for Our Problems

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

Thankfulness. This Thanksgiving we will each gather around our family dining room table and give thanks for God’s blessing. We will thank Him for our family. We will thank Him for our health. We will thank Him for blessings. We will thank Him for our problems.

Say whaaat? Nope, that was not a typo. Thank him for our problems? Aren’t we supposed to detest our problems and issues? Typically that is our reaction, isn’t it?  It definitely is mine. As soon as I face an issue, I shift to the “woe is me” mentality. The victim. The persecuted.

Often I get discouraged with life because after one problem seems to be over or overcome, another problem seems to take its place. When will I get a break, Lord? Is there something wrong with me? Is life ever going to get easier?

But what if we saw our problems as not just the enemy, the very thing we rally against?  But what if we see our problems in life as the means by which we develop a closer walk with God?

Like Paul with his thorn in his flesh, we, too, have thorns in our flesh. Thorns that keep us humble. Thorns that keep us on our knees. Thorns that keep us continually in the throne room, in His presence.

Often when we see our problems in a different light…in a positive light…they often lose their power over us.  We are no longer as overwhelmed, exhausted, defeated by our problems…or their continual presence in our lives.

Instead, we have to see them as necessary. Like muscle is built with the resistance of weight, so is our faith built with the presence of our problems. Each life issue we face exercises different muscles. Sometimes it’s our patience that gets built. Sometimes it’s our forgiveness. Often times it’s our trust muscles.

Challenge: Think of a problem you are struggling with today. How is it helping you exercise your spiritual muscles? How can you view your struggle differently so that you no longer see it solely in a negative light? What “good” can you see coming out of this problem?  How has it strengthened your character and your resolve?

Remember that God promises not to test us beyond what we can endure. And He promises us that everything in our lives can be used for our good…even our problems.