(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Day 25 of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore, we encourage you to share your thoughts and what you've learned in the comment section below each post. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)
I'm going to do something a little different today. I'm going to start my post out with points that Rick Warren made throughout Day 25 that impacted me the most.
God has a purpose behind every problem.
He uses circumstances to develop our character.
Jesus warned us that we would have problems in the world.
Every time you solve one, another is waiting to take it's place.
God uses problems to draw you closer to him.
Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will most likely be your darkest days.
Problems force us to look to God and depend on him instead of ourselves.
Everything that happens to you has spiritual significance.
Your circumstances are temporary, but your character will last forever.
It is vital that you focus on God's plan, not your pain or problem.
God wants you to thank him that he will use your problems to fulfill his purpose.
Character building is a slow process. Whenever we try to avoid or escape difficulties in life, we short-circuit the process, delay our growth, and actually end up with a worse kind of pain.
If you are facing a problem right now, don't ask; "why me?" Instead ask, "What do you want me to learn?"
What problem in my life has caused the greatest growth in me?
It is way too easy for us to become wrapped up in our problems. Everyone in life has problems. Some may seem a lot more easier that others. However, we all have them. We have to remember that God does use these problems to shape us into who he needs us to be. Since we're all different, the way God uses these problems on each of us will be different as well. God will use these difficulties in life to help us grow into who he needs us to be.
When, I look at the last question listed above....What problem in my life has caused the greatest growth in me?....it's easy for me, as I'm sure it is for you as well, to answer. Autism. Looking back at how I was almost five years ago when my son was diagnosed, I hardly recognize myself. It's not the way I looked. It's not the way I treated others. It's how I perceived a problem back then compared to how I see it now. You see, back then my relationship with God was no where near as deep as it is now. I was angry. I couldn't look at any of the positives coming out of this. All I could see was a major problem with no answers. Five years later, not only do I see tremendous growth in my son, I see some amazing growth in me as well. I can actually look at how God is using a difficult situations around me to change me. Or as Rick Warren said on page 196...."We are like jewels, shaped with the hammer and the chisel of adversity. If a jeweler's hammer isn't strong enough to chip off our rough edges, God will us a sledgehammer. If we're really stubborn, he uses a jackhammer." God knows everything. He knows what we need in this life to shape us into what we will become for eternity.
It's going to take a lot of trust though. Especially on those really tough, what I like to call "Autism days." As humans, it's hard for us to wrap our head around the word eternity and why we have to go through everything in this life. We want answers now. Why do our children have autism? What can we do to help them? What will their lives be like ten years from now? However, God knows that if we had the answers, we wouldn't grow like we need to grow. Our faith in God makes us stronger. It helps shape our character into what God designed many years ago. Sometimes, it's difficult to get our eyes off our own problems. We're so focused on what's going on now that we can't see how what we're going through now is actually the best thing that could happen to us for eternity. Difficult pill to swallow when I say autism is the best thing to happen to us, huh? We can't see it now. One day, when we're all in Heaven drinking our coffee, singing our praises to God and watching our children play, talk, eat, run, socialize like all of the others we'll look at each other and say "Now I see." I know that if you're like me, you want it now. Why do we have to wait until eternity to see this? Why can't our children be completely healed now? Some our children will be. It all depends on God's greater plan. That's what we have to remember is the most important thing. God's Will. I believe that Rick Warren was right when he talked about problems on page 193 "Every time you solve one, another is waiting to take it's place." Think of all of the people in the Bible who experienced problems and how God used their problems to help them become who they were. Rick Warren reminds us of these on page 194 "God could have kept Joseph out of jail, kept Daniel out of the lion's den, kept Jeremiah from being tossed into a slimy pit, kept Paul from being shipwrecked three times and kept the three Hebrew young men from being thrown into the furnace-but he didn't. He let those problems happen, and every one of those persons was drawn closer to God as a result."
Let God do his work in you. Draw closer to God so that he only needs use a hammer in your life, not a jackhammer. Let him shape you into the person you were designed to be.
Bible Verses from Day 25
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. - 2 Corinthians 4:17
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. - Romans 8:28-29