I have often kept this verse close to my heart, recalling it in good times and in bad. I have to admit; it is sometimes easier to accept God’s purpose when things are good. When the going gets tough, we tend to want to think that God has stepped out of the room for a minute. Because a loving God wouldn’t make bad things happen to us, right? At least, that’s what some people argue. I wouldn’t say that God makes bad things happen to us. I think He sometimes lets them happen. Since I look at God as my Heavenly Father, I often try to compare Him to an earthly parent. As a parent, there are times where I have to let bad things happen to my kids. I don’t want to do it. It goes against all of my instincts because I love my children and want to protect them. But my instincts also tell me that I need to let certain things happen. I know that my kids need some bad experiences along the way to help shape them and strengthen them. These bad experiences teach them about themselves, about life and other people. Would my Heavenly Father not do the same for me?
There have been times when yucky situations or people have appeared in my life. My reaction used to be, “Why, God? Why?” But as I have grown in my faith, I have been trying to look at things differently. Instead of looking at the bad times as a punishment or abandonment, I have sought to see the blessing in them. What is God using this for in my life? Or is God using this trial in my life to somehow bless someone else?
While thinking about these things, my mind drifted to my sweet PapPap. He was an incredible man, and one of his many talents was woodworking. He could take an unremarkable piece of wood and turn it into something quite remarkable. After some cuts, scrapes, and sanding, that piece of wood was transformed. Hmmm… I started to see my own life in that unremarkable piece of wood. I, too, started off as a plain piece of wood. Over time, the events of my life started to shape this piece of wood. There were plenty of flat surfaces, which indicated the good times of my life. But it is in the places where the wood was cut and broken, the bad times in my life, that gave shape and meaning to this piece of wood. The cuts and breaks left me with raw and ragged edges. That’s when God used the sandpaper on me. Those were the difficult situations and people in my life. The rubbing of the sandpaper over those raw, ragged edges was uncomfortable and, sometimes, painful. But it changed me. Like the wood that my PapPap used for his craft, I was transformed.
My friends, God, loves you so much. I don’t know what is going on in your life. I don’t know if this is a time of smooth surfaces for you or if life is taking a chunk out of you right now. But I do know this: In times of trouble, God has not forsaken you. He’s not punishing you. He’s a father that knows what’s best for you, and He’s the Creator that is shaping His creation. The sandpaper in your life is preparing you for blessings. Please know that God is using the good and the bad in your life for ultimate good. You are His child and His masterpiece, and you are called according to His purpose.