Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Into the potter's hands

Published in the Fiji Times, Wednesday 14th April, 2010

There are times when very bad things happen to us. Injustice, abuse, violation, dispossession and oppression come in so many forms these days. Women and children are particularly vulnerable, but men, while often perpetrators, are also victims. Incidents of violence, sexual assault and other gross injustices continue to shock our communities, bringing pain, trauma, anger and frustration. We lash out, distraught at the lack of love or respect for basic human dignity.

We who are not directly affected sometimes ask ourselves, "What if it happened to someone in my family; someone I love?" I recently asked myself this question. Would my pain, my rage, desire for retribution break my Christian yoke of forgiveness and love?

I received the following email. It contained no author information, so I merely thank the person who wrote it and whoever sent it to me.

The email quotes Paul's Epistle to the Romans 8:28 - "We are assured and know that all things work together and are for good to and for those who love God and are called according to design and purpose."

The email goes on to say: "Continuing to trust God is the key to victory in painful and seemingly unjust situations. Faith and prayer move the hand of God. If we continue believing, He promises to continue moving in our behalf to work everything out for good. God makes this promise to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. We must love God with all of our hearts, and we must want His will. We must be willing to submit to His plan at all times."

The plan that God has for us eventually changes us into His image. We are destined to be molded into His image. That may sound spiritual, but in reality, it usually hurts. I often think of clay being pressed into a mold, and wonder how the clay would feel if it had feelings.

Being changed into an entirely different shape would probably be painful. If we take a lump of clay and press it into a mold, there is always too much clay to fit, and some pieces must be discarded. I found that there was more of me than would fit into the mold of Jesus Christ, so many of my thoughts, words, and actions had to be discarded."

We must go through things that are difficult and learn how to respond to them the way Jesus would. We must not give way to the fearful thoughts and feelings that attack us. We must learn to remain steadfast, knowing that no matter how things appear now, God will work them out for our good -and in the process, He will use them to make us better people."

God's purpose in everything that happens is to make us more like Jesus Christ. Jesus was the totally obedient one. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered (Hebrews 5:8)."

We also learn through what we suffer. We learn from God's Word and life's experiences. Because of our sinful nature, we tend to fight God at every point, but this only makes the process longer and more painful. Learn to surrender quickly, and save yourself a lot of agony. I've learned that God gets His way in the end, so why prolong the process? "

Where the mind goes the man follows. Keep your mind going in the right direction, and your life will catch up with it. A person who has their faith firmly planted in God cannot be defeated. The Bible says that Joseph's brothers hated him, but God was with him.

God gave him favor and promoted him, so we see that his faith in God lifted him above his circumstances."

"Some terrible things happened to Joseph. His brothers sold him to slave traders and told his father a wild animal had killed him. He was betrayed by those whom he served and tried to help, but God was watching him all the time. God had a good plan for Joseph, and it came to pass. He ultimately said that although the things that happened to him were originally meant for harm, God intended it for good."

This same thing is true for all of us. Satan cannot defeat us if we keep believing that God is working for our good, and that we are being continually transformed into His image."

I sincerely hope that in whatever struggle or suffering you are going through, these words will give you some measure of comfort, peace and hope.

May the rest of your week be blessed with love, light, peace and the strength and courage to face every challenge with positivity.

nRev. J.S. Bhagwan is a member of the Faculty at Davuilevu Theological College and the Associate Minister of Dudley Methodist Circuit in Suva. This article is the sole opinion of Rev. J.S. Bhagwan and not of this newspaper or any organisation that he is affiliated with.

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