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TONY ELDER: God uses difficulties to bring good things into your life

"It could be worse," so I was told recently by the young man from the clean-up service that was sent out to our church by the insurance company. His comment came over the noise of commercial fans and dehumidifiers which were working tirelessly to try to erase the effects of an incident with the plumbing that had left our building virtually flooded.

Behind him I could see where walls had been torn out about 18 inches above the floor in order to remove wet insulation. I didn't even want to think about the small kitchen where the vinyl floor had to be ripped out, and cabinets moved in order to reach all of the flooring.

It was a mess. We weren't able to hold church services there last Sunday. But, yes, I had to agree that it could've been worse.

Just consider the fact that on the day I discovered the problem, I almost didn't go to the church due to a full day of meetings elsewhere. If I hadn't decided (or been providentially led) to drop by the church for a few minutes early that morning, the water may have run for another day and done much more damage before being stopped.

Sometimes when we're facing difficulties and trials we do try to console ourselves with the idea that it could be worse.

Recently, one of my friends at a nursing home was dealing with a rather painful physical condition. During the course of our conversation she detailed a number of the aches and pains she has to endure at this point in life. But then she commented on how she looks around at some of the other people in her place of residence and she realizes that it could be worse.

As I've heard others voice similar sentiments in the face of hard times, I've wondered to what extent the Bible supports such a point of view. If you think of any examples, let me know.

One that came to my mind is from the book of Hebrews in the context of referring to Christ's suffering. "For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin" (Hebrews 12:3-4).

In other words, you may be suffering, but it could be worse.

However, God's Word takes this subject matter to an even higher level. It's not just the idea that our circumstances could be worse. We can also have an assurance that God is working even through the difficulties to bring about good things in our lives.

In that same chapter of Hebrews, it goes on to refer to how God can use some of those painful experiences in life to make us better, more godly people. Elsewhere, the scriptures indicate that we can glory in our tribulations because we know that they produce such good qualities in us as perseverance, character, and hope (Romans 5:3-4).

No, we weren't able to hold worship services in our building Sunday. But we had a wonderful time of intimate worship and warm fellowship at one of our member's homes.

Yes, our building is a mess. But our furnishings survived the ordeal in good condition.And when everything gets restored, it may be in better shape than it was before.

Whatever difficulties you're facing today, don't be discouraged. Remember things could be worse. But also go a step further and look for God to use these trials to bring good things into your life and character.

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.