By Jody Ray
April 23, 2019
—Sister Mary Corita Kent
We all face painful, difficult, even gut-wrenching situations in life. The length of these moments is often determined by how we respond to them. When we choose to move forward in faith and ask the people around us for help, this creates pivot moments.
Difficult moments seem to linger on forever, and bright moments end too soon. Whatever the moment, it’s not a brief flash in our life’s history. It’s a season, and how we enter a season determines its length and our success in it.
You have the ability to influence the outcomes of the difficult seasons you experience by how you walk through them. In Psalm 23, David says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (ESV). David was in a dark valley, but he didn’t consider staying there a possibility — he was going to walk through it. Notice he also said he wasn’t afraid. He knew God was with him.
We need to approach all of our moments—the good, the bad, and the ugly—the same way David did. Enter each moment knowing (1) you will walk through it, and (2) you don’t need to be afraid, because God is with you.
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The Bible is full of people who wrestled with why God allows evil and suffering to exist: David questioned God repeatedly. Job cried out to God for answers. Habakkuk asked God why He allowed suffering and injustice to exist. The prophet Jeremiah complained to God, saying “Why does the way of the wicked prosper?” (Jeremiah 12:1 NIV).
A BBC reporter once followed Mother Teresa around Calcutta. Mother Teresa was caring for the poorest of the poor in the area; many of them were children who were starving to death and lacked proper medical care. The reporter, who was an atheist, said, “I can’t understand why you would believe in a God who would allow terrible poverty to exist in the world.” Mother Teresa responded, “Don’t you go blaming poverty on God. Terrible poverty exists in the world because God’s children refuse to share.”
We can understand to some degree why there is pain and suffering in the world. For example, we know the following to be true:
1. We are finite. We are organic beings made of flesh and blood. We live with limitations, like the laws of nature, gravity, human life spans, and bodies that are susceptible to disease.
2. Natural evil exists. This type of evil is inevitable because we live on planet Earth. We experience occasional natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and drought. Part of life on this planet is that we are susceptible to forces outside of our control.
3. Moral evil exists. This evil occurs because of choices made by humans who exercise their free will. People can use their free will to do evil things, and this causes much pain and suffering. Some people choose to crash airplanes into buildings; others choose to bring guns to schools, concerts, or churches, with the intent of shooting innocent and defenseless people. It’s heartbreaking, but unfortunately, there are people out there who make these choices.
God is love; He is not the author of the evil in this world. God doesn’t make bad things happen, but God can use our worst moments to do great things in and through us. God is the Great Redeemer. God can take our pain and turn it into our gain. People can use their free will to cause pain in our lives, but God’s grace can redeem and restore. When we have been abused, lied to, or experienced the pain of divorce or death, God can take those moments and create pivot moments to change the trajectory of our lives and propel us toward His greater plan.
The Rev. Dr. Jody Ray is the senior pastor at Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church in Marietta, Georgia. The above is an excerpt from his book Pivot: Embracing the Moments That Change Your Destiny.