"THE POSITIVE OUTCOME OF NEGATIVE EXPERIENCES!"
Written and preached by David P. Nolte
A man loved his wife's chocolate cake. It was not Betty Crocker either
- it was made from scratch! One day he went into the kitchen while she
was baking one of those scrumptious culinary delights. He saw her sift
some flour - this didn't appeal to him at all, for it was dry and unappetizing.
Next she added a cup of sour milk. Now the batter looked very distasteful.
Then, she added a raw egg; and to make matters worse, she put in unsweetened
chocolate. By this time he was not too sure whether he liked chocolate cake
or not. She added a few other ingredients and he left just as she was popping
it into the oven. Much to his delight, that evening her masterpiece was
as delicious as any she had ever baked! The spiritual lesson we can
learn is this: Often in life we encounter 'dry stretches' which are tasteless
and uninviting like the flour. We also meet with 'sour' experiences like
the milk, a few 'raw deals' like the egg and bitter sorrow like the unsweetened
chocolate. But after we have gone through the oven of affliction, it will
all become a sweet and flavorful blessing! That's what Paul meant when he
wrote: "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good
to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
Romans 8:28 (NASB). Life has many ingredients;
some of them painful and grievous; some frightening and horrendous; some
which we consider negative experiences. But God has the capability of blending
all those ingredients, pain, sorrow, grief, loss, and injustice and bringing
about a positive outcome. Consider today the positive outcome of negative
- ONE POSITIVE OUTCOME OF SUFFERING IS
- We read, "Endure hardship
as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined
by his father?" Hebrews
12:7 (NIV). Now, hold on a minute! Discipline
is more than just punishment! Discipline is more than just being whopped
- Discipline is education,
training, and instruction so we can know what is right and wrong and what
- Discipline is guidance,
correction, and counsel when the one disciplined goes astray so proper conduct
- Discipline is provided
in chastening when that is necessary, and in compliment when that is proper,
or just simple instruction when that suffices. But real discipline is always
to steer us from self-destruction, evil, and the wrong path, and to steer
- There are always lessons
to learn in times of suffering. If we learn them, we are disciplined.
- When we become too
enamored with this temporal world, and ensnared in its godless ways, suffering
can show us the error and temporality of this system. That's discipline.
- When we become puffed
up in arrogance, egocentricity and pride, suffering has a way of bringing
us down to earth, abasing and humbling us. Many don't want to be humbled,
but that's good for us. That's a form of discipline.
- When we forget God
and shove Him aside, suffering can make us realize our dependency on and
need of Him. That's a discipline.
- The basis of God's
discipline, even through suffering, is love. It is not vindictive, vituperative
or vengeful. It is not, "Aha! I caught you! Now I get to sock it to you!
ZAP!" His desire is to bring about repentance, humility, trust, and
conformity to His will - and sometimes it takes suffering to accomplish that
- Two climbers nearly
perished on an icy mountain. With bleeding fingers they dug themselves
out of the snow cave in which they had been sheltered. They staggered through
the snow and made only two miles in three hours. One said, "I'm sleepy!
I'm done! I can go no further!" and he buckled and fell in the snow. His
companion thought, "There is only one thing I can do!" and he slapped the
man vigorously in the face three or four times. The blows aroused the man
and the two staggered on and were finally rescued. Sometimes God has to
send, or allow, a sharp blow - pain, suffering, sorrow - to wake us up, to
turn us around, to discipline us. That's one positive outcome of suffering.
- ANOTHER POSITIVE OUTCOME OF SUFFERING
IS PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT:
- James wrote: "Consider
it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because
you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance
must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking
anything." James 1:2-4
(NIV). Our faith is tested by trials,
and that develops and matures us.
- So in what areas will
suffering develop and mature us? Where will we be deeper and better? What
kind of personal development can take place in suffering?
- Understanding and
sympathy of others in suffering. Before I hurt my back, I wrongly imagined
that all those who complained of back pain were just malingerers. Suffering
taught me more understanding. Paul wrote that God "comforts us in all
our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort
we ourselves have received from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV). Comforted so that we can comfort!
- Endurance, patience
and strength. You know how exercises develop muscle and you grow stronger.
Paul wrote, "If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation;
if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient
endurance of the same sufferings we suffer." 2 Corinthians 1:6 (NIV).
- Readiness for greater
and greater tasks. God asks, "If you have raced with men on foot and they
have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe
country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?" Jeremiah 12:5 (NIV). Suffering enables us to "compete
with horses," and to "manage in the thickets by the Jordan."
- Wisdom and insight.
The greatest lessons I have ever learned in life came through some painful
experience. Solomon said, "The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a
child left to himself disgraces his mother." Proverbs 29:15 (NIV).
- We often think that
life should be just a bowl of pitted cherries, a peach with all the fuzz
removed, a peaceful stroll in the park and a rosebush with no thorns!
- A young boy watched
a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. The process was too slow, and the boy
thought the butterfly was having too difficult a time, so he pulled the
remainder of the cocoon off to release the butterfly. That butterfly never
flew! Its wings were weak, shriveled and useless. The struggle to emerge
from the cocoon is essential to moving vital fluids through the veins in
the wings for their development. The well meaning boy had prevented a necessary
part of the butterfly's development. Shortcut the suffering, eliminate
- ANOTHER POSITIVE OUTCOME OF SUFFERING IS FELLOWSHIP WITH JESUS:
- There is some sort
of kinship that grows between fellow-sufferers. That is no less true between
Jesus and His disciples.
- Paul reminds us,
"For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe
on Him, but also to suffer for Him," Philippians 1:29 (NIV).
- Paul said, "I want
to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing
in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death," Philippians 3:10 (NIV). That's not masochism; that's
not a death-wish. That's seeking to fellowship with Jesus even in suffering.
- Peter wrote: "Dear
friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as
though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate
in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory
is revealed." 1 Peter
4:12-13 (NIV). Participation in the sufferings
of Christ is fellowship with Him.
- You are in fellowship
with those with whom you share common experiences. When we suffer for doing
right; when we suffer unjustly; when we suffer without murmuring and complaining;
when we suffer humbly and patiently, we are in rank with Jesus Christ Who
also so suffered. That's being in fellowship with Him.
- When in your suffering
you turn in faith and trust to Jesus for help and mercy, and your heart
is knit to Him, that's fellowship.
- Jesus suffered agony
in Gethsemane and it brought Him to submit to God's will. When we find
our own Gethsemane in our sufferings, when we submit to God's will, we are
in step with and we are in fellowship with Jesus Christ.
- So what's the
benefit of being in fellowship with Jesus in suffering?
- It links us to Him, intimately and creates a close kinship.
- We can walk with Him, arm in arm, side by side, aligned with Him.
- We can draw from Him strength, mercy, and peace.
- Two ladies became
friends in a nursing home. Both had been pianists. Strokes had left them
partially paralyzed. One had use of the right arm, the other had use of
the left arm. A kinship grew between them. And you should have heard them
play the piano - one using the right arm, the other using the left - kinship
in suffering brought about a sweet fellowship and beautiful music, too.
- ANOTHER POSITIVE OUTCOME OF SUFFERING
IS GLORIFYING GOD:
- Believe it or not,
suffering provides a wonderful platform from which to bring God glory:
- Peter wrote, "By
no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a
troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel
ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God." 1 Peter 4:15-16 (NASB).
- Paul adds, "My confident
hope is that I will in no way be ashamed but that with complete boldness,
even now as always, Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or
death." Philippians 1:20
- How can that happen?
By showing a spirit of courage, trust, hope, patience and endurance in
the face of pain and by crediting God for His mercy and grace in time of
suffering. Anybody can sing when the sun shines; but God is glorified when
we exalt Him in the rain. But mark this: No grumbler, griper,
complainer or self-pitier ever gives God glory.
- What is the benefit
- It makes us think positively, not negatively.
- It opens our heart and lives to His continued blessing.
- It causes others to put their hope in Him when they, too, suffer.
- I received
a letter from a member of my former congregation: "It seemed like the past
week had been quite difficult as our little granddaughter, not quite 2,
has cancer. Then a close friend is going through a series of tests, and
the doctors as yet have not given their diagnosis and a 3 year old cousin
has cystic fibrosis. All of us believe in God, and we know that without
Him we would not have been able to go on. He gives us strength, peace of
mind and causes the restless murmurings to cease."
will come. It is always unpleasant. We hate it, and would avoid it if
possible. But it comes. So we ought to let suffering complete its work
in discipline, in developing us, in drawing us near to Christ and in glory
to God. Listen to James, "As you know, we consider blessed those who have
persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the
Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy."
James 5:11 (NIV). Endure patiently; wait to see what
the Lord will bring about. Anticipate, in faith, the positive outcome of
negative experiences. God is full of compassion and mercy and He will carry
you through! Whatever is happening to you now will be turned to good in
God's way and time - if you trust.
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