Learning To Perceive A Crisis Differently
by Johnnie Moore
Words of LIFE Weekly Devotional
Our biggest problems are not necessarily our most apparent problems. Our perceptions of those problems often get us in more trouble than the problems themselves. What if we started perceiving many of our challenges differently? What if we chose to believe that God was actually up to something in our lives even when things seemed dreary and hopeless and painful? After all, certain uneasy seasons of life might eventually turn out to be misunderstood.
My parents divorce and all the accompanying insanity nearly killed my relationship with God. It also killed my sense of security and stability, and it put enough wounds on my heart to employ a personal shrink for a lifetime.
My family was suddenly thrust into poverty (in the American sense of the word), and I had to live with a haunting memory of my suicidal dad limp in the seat of his car. We moved from house to house and school to school so many times that I hardly have any social roots from my childhood. My family was written off and avoided by the church. We were scorned, shamed, and embarrassed. It was hard -- very, very hard.
Worse yet, all of this happened just after I decided to care about my spiritual health, just after I became convinced of Jesus as my savior, just after I chose to have a daily meeting with God from nine to nine-thirty every night.
It was all bad, right? I can ask myself, "Why did Jesus put me through all of this and just when I decided to get serious about serving Him?" I could decide that God must have been picking on me, and slowly that attitude would turn toward resentment. Eventually I would move away from the very thing I need in my life the most -- God.
Or I can try to interpret my circumstances with an attitude of trust in a God whose ways are higher than my ways. I can choose to see my life through a lens of grace, and I can choose to believe that God might be up to something.
Today, when I look back on my parents' divorce, I perceive things differently than I did before. I can see that God was with us every step of the way. We were in poverty, but we were never homeless. The church might have misunderstood us, but a few people in the church were always ready to seek us out and care for us. We all survived our relational war despite the perilous moments!
My testimony confirms what one man said: "God never puts more on us than He puts in us." Charles Spurgeon, the great British pastor, once said, "God is too good to be unkind, too wise to be mistaken, and when I cannot trace His hand, I can always trust His heart." In hindsight, now I realize the effects of my parents' divorce were not nearly as detrimental as they might have been.
We start to perceive our circumstances and a hopeful light, grace begins to peek through the darkness of our difficult days. We start to realize that God wasn't waiting in the wings. He was involved. At times his involvement might have seemed clandestine, but we have no idea how God has manipulated history on our behalf. Sometimes He has intervened in ways we'll never know, and His silence in our crisis may be the best gift He could possibly give us.
Today, I feel nearly healed, and God is using my story to encourage thousands of people to run toward God in their troubles and not away from Him. I also see God at work healing my family. I can see so clearly how He has always been looking out for us. Life is better because of all the lessons I learned during that difficult season, and I have deeper faith in God because of the way He helped me.
A couple of years ago I overcame my relational anxiety and met the woman of my dreams. We just celebrated our one-year anniversary. And today, I'm not weighed down by the baggage of my childhood. I have a good career as one of North America's youngest university executives, and God is using His work of grace in my life as a testimony to encourage a lot of other hurting people. And I'm not the only one God has redeemed. My mom just remarried, and my dad is one of my best friends. My dad even listens to my sermons online each week.
God did not cause my parents' marriage to fall apart. They did. God was not complicit in their sin in their failure, but He was and is complicit in their healing. He is a God who mends our brokenness and turns our stories of failure, discouragement, and pain into testimonies of grace and perseverance.
With God, I have learned that there is a light at the end of every tunnel. He is always keeping watch over us when life is trying to beat us down, and so many times He intervenes before things become critical. He doesn't have to intervene, but He chooses to because He loves us more than we'll ever know.
Adapted from: Honestly: Really Living What We Say We Believe © 2011by Johnnie Moore. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission. Hear more of Johnnie's powerful testimony this Tuesday on LIFE TODAY.
Johnnie Moore: Faith, Doubt, and Hypocrisy