When it was clear that we couldn’t persuade him, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done” (v.14).
As we walked through a small nature preserve near our house, my son surprised me when he said, “God was pretty amazing when He made swamps.” “Really?” I responded quizzically. I was a little incredulous as to the combination of the words swamp and amazing. Pointing to the vibrant red branches of a particular plant and the tangled arms of thick vines, he explained in his 9-year-old way that the swamp held both beauty and chaos.
The same is often true in our Christian walk. The path before us may seem twisted with vines and the way uncertain, only to open up later to the revelation of great beauty. For the believer, the issue is not whether persecution and hardship will come. They’re to be expected. But just as Paul reminded Timothy to follow his example, we’re to leave behind a legacy of teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, and perseverance in the midst of whatever difficulties life brings our way (2 Timothy 3:10).
On several occasions, Paul received prophecies that pointed to impending heartache for him (Acts 21:4). Undeterred by the Judaizers who called for his death, he remained steadfast to the beauty found in God’s sovereignty (v.13). Because Paul was already dead before he ever died (Galatians 2:20), the wisdom of man couldn’t move him from the purpose of God. Every trial became an opportunity for the character of Christ to be made manifest in his life.
Choosing to find beauty in the swamp doesn’t mean that we romanticize the brokenness we suffer or that we idealize our ability to survive. Rather, it means we recognize that the truth of God stands above the opinions of man (Acts 21:14). Most of all, it moves us from the position of helpless victim to that of valiant overcomer.
Read Revelation 12:9 to consider our trials from heaven’s point of view.
What are some current chaotic situations you are facing? What lessons of beauty might they offer? Why must we refuse to be defined as victims in the difficult places of life?