by Calven Celliers
Last night I received the sad news that an acquaintance of mine, Nico Bougas, had passed away peacefully and unexpectedly at his home in Florida in the USA. Just last week I received an email from Nico with these encouraging words to ponder:
“Do you ever run into roadblocks on your life journey? Do you ever get frustrated when things go wrong and your plans don’t work out as anticipated? God has a way of turning life’s problems into blessings. What seems like a detour can lead you straight to your destination.
“Difficulties are opportunities to better things; they are stepping stones to greater experience. Perhaps someday you will be thankful for some temporary failure in a particular direction. When one door closes, another always opens, that is the way life is. Obstacles and failures are a normal part of life when you take risks in order to grow. Accept them and move on. See what new things God has in store for you. A problem gives your life a jolt and knocks you off your accustomed track. The jolt, however, can send you spinning off in a new and better direction. In this way, a problem can become an opportunity.” (Nico Bougas)
As I read those words, I was immediately reminded of a quote by New York blogger, best-selling author, and motivational speaker, Mandy Hale, that I’d read on a Huletts sugar packet at a coffee shop just the week before.
I got the impression that God was definitely trying to tell me something, and He was using different, unrelated channels to get His message across. There’s purpose in the problems and detours of life! 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. No one gets to skate through life problem-free. In fact, in the Gospel of John 16:33 Jesus made it quite clear, “33 …Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Let’s face it, life has a way of serving up a variety of situations. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are darn right ugly. But I reckon they are all significant. I still maintain that even though God obviously doesn’t cause all our problems – we have to take responsibility and admit that many times problems are simply consequences – He certainly works through them. Have you ever considered that God wants us to view our life experiences through the lens of purpose? Even the detours.
Detours come in many different shapes and sizes, they catch us off-guard, leaving us frustrated, confused, curious, even heart-broken. We question why things had to happen this way, at this time. The ultimate temptation is to become discouraged, even angry at God, as we sometimes experience our faith being rocked. But what we consider to be “detours” in our lives aren’t always detours in God’s overarching plan.
Every problem is a character-building opportunity. What happens outwardly in your life is not as important as what happens inside of you. People are like teabags, if you want to know what’s inside them, just drop them into hot water! The days you are most uncomfortable, are the days you will probably learn the most about yourself.
The late Eugene Petersen paraphrased the words of James in The Message saying,
2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colours. So, don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (James 1: 2 – 4The Message)
And so, in closing I want to encourage you to be patient and persistent. Character building can be a long, slow process, don’t try short circuit it in any way. You know you are maturing when you begin to see the hand of God in the random, baffling, and seemingly pointless circumstances of life. And if you’re facing trouble right now, don’t ask, “Why me?” Instead ask, “What do you want me to learn?” Then trust God and see what new things He has in store for you.
On the road to spiritual maturity even problems become stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks when we view our life experiences through the lens of God’s purpose.
God bless you,