In a recent conversation, my wife and I were discussing some experiences over the past few years. We were reflecting on how God always brings positive outcomes from our negative experiences.
One of my mentors back in the 1970s and ‘80s was Norman Grubb, missionary statesman and author of many books. On several occasions, I can remember him saying, “Every negative has a positive, and the more negative the negative, the more positive the positive.”
Seeing God in our Circumstances
Another notable spiritual leader, Devern Fromke, wrote a book titled “Seeing God’s Wisdom in Everything” as well as several other great books. Of course, the Scriptures give us many lessons and examples of how God is working all things after the counsel of His own will, and all things are working together for good for all who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose (see Eph.1 & Rom. 8). From Scripture and history, we have many examples of how God intervenes in the most difficult times and places and redeems those negative situations for our good and His glory.
Think of all the great organizations, ministries, movements, and even businesses, that got started because of a problem or crisis situation. Consider how someone’s disease or serious accident may have been the catalyst for starting an effort to solve a problem or meet a need.
A great way to live our lives is with an awareness of God’s presence and His care for us. Also, that He is willing to use every experience, both positive and negative for His Kingdom purposes. It’s something most of us need to be reminded of often. It’s a common temptation to take our eyes off of the Lord and focus too much on our problems or circumstances.
God Intervenes in Times of Trouble
I’m reminded of an experience I had a few years ago in relation to an automobile accident. A lady ran into the back of my car on the freeway. While exchanging insurance information in a parking lot at a nearby hospital, I asked the lady, named Gloria, if she had been thinking more about the Lord lately. She said, “Yes, it’s interesting that you would ask because I just started reading the Bible a couple of weeks ago.” Well, those comments opened the door for me to share the Gospel and pray with her, and she confessed her faith in Christ. Just then a security guard from the hospital approached to assist us, and I shared with her how Gloria had just received the Lord Jesus into her life.
There are No Accidents with God
It turned out that the security guard was the daughter of a minister of the Gospel and she rejoiced with us in Gloria’s new found faith. Later that day at a police sub-station, as Gloria and I filled out some paper work, one of the officers made the comment that it was refreshing to have people come to them in agreement and with a pleasant attitude. I commented, “Well, you might be interested to know that Gloria just received Christ into her life earlier this morning and He changes our hearts and attitudes.”
In the days following the accident, I had the opportunity of sharing the Lord with several other people at the auto repair shop, with some insurance agents, and others. As followers of Jesus, we should consider those encounters as divine appointments, and be ready to demonstrate the love of Christ in those circumstances.
Problems often Proceed Opportunities
We can apply those lessons and principles to many situations, including the modern Orality Movement. Recognizing that the movement came about as a result of an awareness of a problem or need. That need being to reach those without access to the message of the Bible, as well as the many Oral Preference Learners. But also recognizing that we encounter people and circumstances, almost daily, where we can experience the redemptive work of God.
A True Story of Redemption
In our Orality journey with Living Water International we have many stories and examples of how God has worked to bring good out of bad experiences. One older pastor in a West African country at an Orality Training event shared how he lost his first nine children during infancy. The local witch doctor said the reason for the loss of his children was because he was not offering enough sacrifices to the idols. He later was exposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The witch doctor told him if he followed Jesus, the spirits would kill him. His response was, he would rather die for Jesus, than live for the devil.
Experiencing the Fruit after the Pain
After becoming a follower of Jesus and a minister of the Gospel, that pastor was blessed with several more children who lived. It is certainly a joy and delight to be on mission with God and experience His redemptive work. That can take expression on a global strategic level, or in our personal encounters in those daily traffic patterns.
As we think of our learning journey with the Lord, we can expect to have many bumps in the road. The bigger the bump, the bigger the lesson we can learn.
Jerry Wiles is President Emeritus of Living Water International and serves on the advisory council and leadership team of the International Orality Network. He can be reached at: [email protected].