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WIT & WISDOM - January 27, 1999
"A life filled with love must have some thorns, but a life empty of love will have no roses." 
~~~~~~~ SPECIAL THOUGHTS:
LIFE IS A SERIES OF PROBLEM-SOLVING OPPORTUNITIES.
The problems you face will either defeat you or develop you - depending on how you respond to them. Unfortunately most people fail to see how God wants to use problems for good in their lives. They react foolishly and resent their problems rather than pausing to consider what benefit they might bring. Here are five ways God wants to use the problems in your life:
1.God uses problems to DIRECT you. Sometimes God must light a fire under you to get you moving. Problems often point us in a new direction and motivate us to change. Is God trying to get your attention? "Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways." Proverbs 20:30 (GN)
2. God uses problems to INSPECT you. People are like tea bags. . . if you want to know what's inside them, just drop them into hot water! Has God ever tested your faith with a problem? What do problems reveal about you? "When you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience." James 1:2-3 (NCV)
3. God uses problems to CORRECT you. Some lessons we learn only through pain and failure. It's likely that as a child your parents told you not to touch a hot stove. But you probably learned by being burned. Sometimes we only learn the value of something ... health, money, a relationship. . . by losing it. ". . . It was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to your laws." Psalm 119:71-72 (LB)
4. God uses problems to PROTECT you. A problem can be a blessing in disguise if it prevents you from being harmed by something more serious. Last year a friend was fired for refusing to do something unethical that his boss had asked him to do. His unemployment was a problem - but it saved him from being convicted and sent to prison a year later when management's actions were eventually discovered. "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good. . ." Genesis 50:20 (NIV)
5. God uses problems to PERFECT you. Problems, when responded to correctly, are character builders. God is far more interested in your character than your comfort. Your relationship to God and your character are the only two things you're going to take with you into eternity. "We can rejoice when we run into problems. . . they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady." Romans 5:3-4 (LB)
Here's the point: God is at work in your life - even when you do not recognize it or understand it. But it's much easier and profitable when you cooperate with Him! 
~~~~~~~ THIS & THAT:
A POEM FOR MOMS AND DADS
- Author Unknown
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray my sanity to keep.
For if some peace I do not find,
I'm pretty sure I'll lose my mind.
I pray I find a little quiet
Far from the daily family riot
May I lie back - - not have to think
about what they're stuffing down the sink,
or who they're with, or where they're at
and what they're doing to the cat.
I pray for time all to myself
(did something just fall off a shelf?)
To cuddle in my nice, soft bed
(Oh no, another goldfish - - dead!)
Some silent moments for goodness sake
(Did I just hear a window break?)
And that I need not cook or clean - -
(Oh well, I've got the right to dream)
Yes now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray my wits about me keep,
But as I look around I know - -
I must have lost them long ago! 
~~~~~~~ KEEP SMILING:
A little boy was roughhousing with his dog. His mother said to him, "Now, Peter, I know you love Granger, but you're loving him too much. How would you feel if someone huge picked you up and squeezed you so hard you couldn't breathe?" The boy thought a moment and then said, "I guess I'd feel like it was my birthday and Aunt Doreen was here!" 
Charles H. Spurgeon, probably the most famous preacher of the 1800's, suffered bouts with depression. He was called to a church at 23 and was addressing crowds of 5000 by age 30. He preached in the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London that seated over 6000. Yet he wrote this:
"Before any great achievement in my life, some measure of depression would always come over me. I became very usual. Such was my experience when I first became a pastor in London; my success appalled me and the thought of that career which seemed to be opening up, so far from elating me, cast me into the lowest depths out of which I uttered my misery. I found no room for a Gloria-in-Excelsis.
Who was I that I should continue to lead so great a multitude? I would slip away to my village in obscurity, preferring to emigrate to America and find a solitary nest in the backwoods.
I began to realize that it was just then that the curtain was rising on my greatest life's work and I dreaded what it might reveal to me. I hope I was not faithless! But I was timorous and filled with a sense of my own unfitness. This depression sweeps over me whenever the Lord is preparing a larger blessing for my life and ministry. Some of you are right at the door." 
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