by Johnny Smith
While sitting in the Social Security office recently, waiting for my number to be called, I began to reflect on recent years. This was the trip that many people see as a milestone of life in America when you finally get to cash in on all those payments you made to Uncle Sam during your working lifetime.
It’s been over a year since the sale of my dental practice and I am working less days each week and my stress level is much lower. But all of this did come at a cost. There were many hours of worry and concern over the details of the sale and the negative changes that might come afterward. I was leaning on my own understanding and not trusting God. My health began to decline and unfortunately, many of my interpersonal relationships suffered. I was treated for headaches, weight loss, digestive issues, skin disorders, and neck pain, all during a period of 2 years. I even sought out counseling to help me find peace.
Eventually I did the right thing and turned to the Scriptures. This is where I found solace and guidance. Certain verses were like road signs, pointing me in the right direction.
Psalm 43:5 Why are you cast down O my soul. Why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall agaln praise him, my salvation and my God.
I spent many hours praying and pleading with God to help me. In response He brought about changes to my thinking and equipped me to go forward. It was a crucible of fire that even healed my body.
Proverbs 17:3 The crucible is for silver and the furnace is for gold: and the Lord tests hearts.
As God brought me out of the darkness I began to experience periods of the joy that had eluded me for so long.
Psalm 30: 11 You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.
Several important things came to my attention during this difficult time:
God is in control.
I believe this more and more each day. God has shown me many times that even the small things that happen in a day are under his control and are worthy of thanksgiving and praise. Then, as I look back over weeks and months, I can see His hand in bigger things.
God cares about me, and my family, and what I desire.
This was a hard one to learn. As I started to trust and understand His will more fully, blessings appeared that gave me assurance and confidence. My prayers were being heard! Small things that I had not noticed before, took on a new importance.
Romans: 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Now, His desires for me are revealed regularly, through meditating on scripture, and through interacting with Christian brothers. When I am honest with God, truly trust and obey, my desires become His desires.
God will place trials in my path to test me and to give me a chance to exercise faith and trust.
The troubles of life have always been something to dread, but now, God has shown me how His ways are better. I see opportunities in trials to learn more about Jesus and His desires for me. I get to see Him at work in my life and the life of others.
Hebrews 5:8 Although he was a son, he learned through what he suffered.
Following Jesus is not easy in tough times, but it is far better than relying on our own understanding of a situation. Spending time alone with Him, reading and studying the scriptures is much more helpful than worrying and over-analyzing a problem. Afterward, prayer in the form of a conversation will naturally follow and it is here that God will teach and provide guidance. This is really the only way to find true peace and joy. Exercising faith during trouble is like most other human activities, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Be patient and remember:
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
My prayer for you is that you will follow the advice in this verse and find peace in your troubles.