What kind of year was 2016 for you? Did you face any problems? Did you find yourself under immense pressure? Were there burdens that weighed you down? Were you in trouble at all? Did you suffer or experience soul-wrenching anguish? Were you stressed, or even distressed?
Romans 5:3 makes a bizarre statement: “We glory in tribulation.” I looked up the Hebrew word for glory and in that context it means rejoice or revel. Then I looked up tribulation and it means the full spectrum of problems I referenced in my opening paragraph.
My guess is that if you are here on planet earth, then you probably tribulated in some way last year. You may even have had a year full of painful battles.
So why on earth would anyone revel and rejoice in such tough times? It makes no sense. In fact, if you’re still struggling with some of the stuff that you went through, this verse may even sound insensitive.
In truth, there are several ways God uses our problems to help us fulfil our purpose. I want to look at two. In this blog we will look at the power of provocation and next week I will share about preparation.
Half a husband
Let’s look at the story of Hannah, Prophet Samuel’s mum. At a time in history when women derived much of their purpose from marriage and family, Hannah had half a husband and no children.
Marriage is hard enough when there are just two people in the picture! I can’t countenance how horrible it would be to share a husband.
Imagine the sense of rejection Hannah must have felt each time she saw her man walk off with his other woman. I am convinced that no husband would be way easier than half a husband. It must have been soul-destroying.
Add into the mix the fact that Hannah was barren while Peninnah, the woman she shared her husband with, was a mother of many… and very unkind. Let’s read 1 Samuel 1:6-7:
“Her rival provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.”
Peninnah mocked and taunted Hannah year in year out. She was jealous of Hannah and wanted to make her life miserable. You see, the enemy has a plan. He wants to make you miserable. He wants to use every tough time to grind you down.
Provoked into prayer
But God has a plan too. He wants to use the pain in our lives to provoke us to believe Him for better. I think that Hannah may have accepted her lot if it wasn’t for Peninnah. She may have come to terms with her life without children.
However, Hannah couldn’t handle Peninnah. The very plan of the enemy to make her miserable became the provocation necessary to drive Hannah to persistent prayer. She prayed with all her heart.
A year later, Samuel was born. He become one of the greatest prophets the world has ever known. If there had been no Peninnah, perhaps there would have been no Samuel! Hannah’s heartache became her greatest source of happiness. (And she went on to have five more children!)
God turned around the sadness of one woman and blessed a whole nation as well as generations to come through the words that he spoke. The Lord wants to turn your tribulation around into a testimony that will make many marvel at God’s goodness.
The toughest times of my life have consistently produced my greatest breakthroughs. God has turned a river of pain in my heart into a healing spring for others. What He has done for me, He will do for you. Ask Him to turn last year’s tribulation into this year’s glory. He is ready and able.
If you want God to do a deep work in you, why not start the year with a detox for your soul? Also, if you want God to do something new in you, we have a US Healed for Life Champions event in FL in March. We would love to see you there.