February 28

“Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually.” Hebrews 13:15

Remember Luther on his sick-bed. Between his groans he managed to preach on this wise: “These pains and trouble here are like the type which the printers set; as they look now, we have to read them backwards, and they seem to have no sense or meaning in them; but up yonder, when the Lord God prints us off in the life to come, we shall find they make brave reading.” Only we do not need to wait till then. Remember Paul walking the hurricane deck amid a boiling sea, bidding the frightened crew “Be of good cheer,” Luther—all of them human sunflowers. (Streams in the Desert)

My wife and I took our oldest grandson to find a pair of track shoes since he has outgrown his from last season. The reality is, he has grown out of just about everything he wears. I cannot quite get accustomed to looking up to this fourteen-year-old who now stands at least two inches taller than me. We enjoy his company, especially when he is in a talkative mood, and on this occasion, he couldn’t wait to tell us about the day’s ordeal. As is true for many teenagers these days, his cell phone holds paramount importance. At some point earlier in the day, he reached in his backpack for the phone but couldn’t find it. He mentally retraced his steps, asked a friend to call his number, thought it must be in the pocket of his jacket he had loaned to his girlfriend, but the phone was nowhere to be found. Quite by chance, he went back to his athletic locker and a faint reflection caught his eye. The black cell phone was nearly imperceptible against the shadows and dark metal backdrop, but light reflecting from the screen was enough to guide him to the phone. We laughed to tears as he described in detail the enormous relief he experienced in that moment; he obviously was still enjoying the ecstasy of recovering the phone and not needing to explain its loss to his parents.

We generally find what we are looking for. If we spend our days ferreting out trouble, we will likely find it. If we meditate on the dark side of life, the color drains out of even the brightest moments. If we look for good in ourselves and others, the search may take a bit longer, but we will come upon an encouraging note eventually. Scripture admonishes, “set your minds on things above.” We do so by turning problems into prayer, and grace into worship. Finding evidence of God’s handiwork in difficulty is not naive or escapism; it is choosing by faith to stake your life on the sovereignty and goodness of God. Look for the Father and you will find Him. He is always at work on your behalf, orchestrating even the most arduous experiences into a tapestry of faith and perseverance.

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