Friday, August 21, 2009

Making the Most of our Maladies

"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:20-21)

C.H. Spurgeon once said, "So surely as the stars are fashioned by His hands, and their orbits fixed by Him, so surely are our trials allotted to us: He has ordained their season and their place, their intensity and the effect they shall have upon us." Have you ever found yourself in the midst of a malady? If not, prepare your heart. Life is full of them. Trials, some call them. Others call them hardships. Just the words themselves are enough to make us quiver. Aren't they?

Paul is near the end of his life as he writes this letter to the church in Philippi. He is under house arrest in Rome. Shackled. Secluded. Supervised. Roman guards for companions. Is this the reward for years of faithful missionary work for the Lord? Is this the end-of-the-line for God's determined worker? Will Paul's finale result in such a great malady?

Paul didn't ask these questions. Paul viewed his malady differently than what you might expect. You see, Paul didn't gauge God's goodness in his life by the health, wealth, and prosperity teachings we hear so much of today. He didn't measure his checkbooks or reconcile his financial statements in order to determine whether or not this had been a successful season of his life. He didn't hold his chains, look toward heaven, and cry, "Why me, Lord?" Instead, Paul saw the opportunity that God had given him in his malady--and looked to make the most of it!

In fact, he taught the church in Philippi what Spurgeon would later recognize--our trials are allotted to us. God is sovereign over the maladies of life.

If we are to learn to make the most of our maladies, we must be completely surrendered to the will of the Lord and say as Paul did, "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death." We must be surrendered to God in the midst of our maladies because He is sovereign over them. We must also have courage because the outcomes might not always be what we expect them to be. Yet, we can always be sure that we have an opportunity to make the most of our troubles. We will always make the most of our hardships when the end result is that Christ is glorified by the witness we exhibit during them! Always! One-hundred percent of the time!

We have an eternal impact on those around us not when we master our maladies. Nor when we hide them from others. Nor when we ignore them altogether. Rather, we have an eternal impact when we exalt Christ through them and trust Him with the results.

Take courage! Hope! Let us give our maladies to the Lord and make the most of them (for His glory) when they come our way!

God bless.

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