By Michael E. Brooks
“Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever, amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21 NKJV).
This week Dhaka, Bangladesh, was inundated by record amounts of rain. Almost one foot fell in a single six-hour period. City dwellers were left without shelter, transportation and other necessities, while insects, floating garbage and other attendant circumstances added to their problems.
Paradoxically, farmers outside the city rejoiced as the storm replenished the water table depleted by a so-far drier-than-average monsoon season. What was a burden for some was a boon for others.
This is not at all an unusual situation. Our proverbs, “Every cloud has a silver lining,” and “It is an ill wind that does no one any good,” reflect the truth that most situations produce some good for someone, regardless of the negative effects on others. The rain in Dhaka produced these observations.
First, God is the giver of great abundance. His power has no limits, nor does his generosity and goodness. Paul describes his nature in the following terms, “Nevertheless he did not leave himself without witness, in that he did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17). He is able “to do exceedingly abundantly, above all that we ask or think.”
Second, our criticisms and doubts of God’s goodness may be based on selfish, limited perspective. We are quick to question why some bad thing happened to us. Yet that same event may have produced blessings for others. The rain that ruins our picnic may produce good crops in a neighbor’s field. Our judgments must not be made hastily, or from too narrow a view.
Third, many negative circumstances may have positive effects. I am not speaking here just of the double potential of rain for destruction and productivity, but of the results of our struggles with difficulties.
“And not only that but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces
perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).
We grow and increase strength through proper diet and exercise. This is just as true of our spirits as it is our bodies. Spiritual exercise includes laboring for the Lord and struggling against trials and temptations. Wading through flooded streets may develop our leg muscles. It may also strengthen our Christian characteristics of patience and faith.
By Michael E. Brooks