September 16, 2004
Encouragement for Today
The Worst Thing That Can Happen
Micca Campbell, Director of Outreach, Speaker Team Member
"Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life" Jude 1:21 (NKJ).
My eight year old is a "curious George." He loves to ask "why." As annoying as it can be at times, I'm thankful that he has an inquisitive mind. You can almost see the wheels of knowledge turning in his head as he hangs on every word of my answer as it sheds new light on his questions.
One day, while driving in the car, Parker asked, "Mom, what's the worse thing that can happen to you?" I knew exactly what he was taking about. The night before our family was cuddled together in the hallway of our home with flash lights and the cell phone while waiting for a furious storm to pass. Parker had many questions that night, too. "What if the tornado hits our house? What if the roof falls in and chops off my leg? What if every one dies, even the dog?"
I thought we had been successful in calming his fears. Evidently, I was wrong. Parker still needed to know what the worst of the worst could possibly be. At that moment, God must have filled my mouth with His words because I answered, "The worst thing that could happen to a person is to never know the love of God."
"Oh, yeah," said Parker. "If you don't know God's love you can't be forgiven of your sins and go to heaven."
"That's right," I agreed. Then I shared that the love of God does more than just provide forgiveness and a home in eternity. God's love gets us through the bad times. "Nothing can separate us from His love, not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not back stabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture [can keep us from the love of God] (Romans 8:38, The Message).
Awful things may happen to us because of living in this fallen world, but God's love is never changing and everlasting. His love promises to restore us and make us new. It doesn't matter what we face in this life when we know that God, in His timing, will change the outcome either in this world or the next. That's a promise!
The disabled person will one day be whole by the love of God. The broken-hearted divorcee will be comforted by His love. The lame will walk and the blind will see. The death will hear and the mute will speak, all by the power of love.
Our heavenly Father's love is our hope. And hope is what helps us to endure. How is it that we can bear the bitter cold months of winter? We tolerate them because we know that spring is coming. Likewise, we can endure our suffering for a little while when we know that the promise of eternity, where all things are new, will far outlast the time we may suffer on earth.
Those without the love of God not only suffer in this world but in the world to come. They will not be comforted, or made whole. Instead, they will live separated from God forever and ever.
This world in which we live is filled with much wickedness, immorality, and violence. Just think how much worse it would be without the presence of God in it? Because of God's Spirit in the world, even those who do evil benefit. Can you imagine what total separation from God must be like? I believe the Bible calls it Hell.
My friend, calamity, sickness, and death are not the worst things that can happen to a person. Not even getting your leg chopped off by a falling roof in the midst of a storm is as tragic as not knowing the love of God.
Whatever your burden may be, hold it up to the backdrop of the cross where God displayed His greatest love for you and me. Then, rejoice! Eternal life is yours.
My Prayer for Today:
Dear Lord, thank you that my suffering is only temporary. I ask that your love sustain me until you make me well again, heal my heart, or change my situation. Thank you for the promise of eternal life where one day all my pain will be gone never to return. Amen.
Take your focus off of your burden and meditate on God's love and provision for you. To do this, play a praise tape and sing about His love and precious promises. Your sorrow will turn to joy as your heart is filled with hope.
What is your greatest fear?
Has your suffering drawn you closer to God or further away - why?
Have you ever thought of the price He paid for you?
Did you believe that Christ would die for you and then leave you to yourself?
How has He shown you His love through your burden?
Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. John 14:1, (KJV)
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken, cast down, but not destroyed. II Corinthians 4:8,9, (KJV)
Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24, (KJV)
Cast all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 1 Peter 5:7 (KJV)
Thou will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusts in thee. Isaiah 26:3, (KJV)
Who Holds the Key to Your Heart, by Lysa Terkeurst
Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed, by Lysa Terkurst
A Woman After God's Own Heart, by Elizabeth George
Living the Life You Always Wanted, tape set by Mary Southerland
Originally published Thursday, 16 September 2004.