Here is an excerpt from a note I just sent to a close friend who lives in Switzerland; he (Ralph) also publishes all of my books. If I was to make a sermon out of this note, buy sale I would title it Even bad stuff can end up to be good when God is in control.
Last Friday when I was doing some discipleship with another friend of mine (Ron) at a local coffee shop, sale the discussion came up about how God often uses bad things in our lives to bring about good things. I shared with him an experience I once had when I lived in Bakersfield, California.
Early one evening while driving home, I got backed up in traffic on a well-traveled four lane road. All I had to do to get out of this mess was to turn right at the next light and I was home free. And there was a possibility to make this happen sooner rather than later, because to the far right was an overly wide emergency lane. Now it was illegal to drive in this lane, but it was rarely used by anyone. In fact, the commuters who traveled on this road everyday complained to the City of Bakersfield for making it so wide in the first place, instead of just another lane. Nonetheless, I, like so many others that late afternoon, entered the emergency lane to turn right to save some time getting home. But as I traveled down the lane, a guy in his car pulled out in front of me, blocking the lane. I was so furious when he did this, because I was sure he did it to force me to wait for the light to turn before turning right
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. Hence, there I sat watching other cars down the road turning right as I stood still. When the light finally turned green and the traffic began to move again, the guy blocking me moved back into the driving lane as did I. I was so mad! But as I came to the light, I saw a policeman ticketing everyone who had used the emergency lane. Evidently this guy saw this happening too, and blocked me so I would not get a ticket. Immediately my opinion of him changed from anger to great appreciation. What I thought was a bad thing ended up to be a good thing for me.
When sharing this story with Ron, I made a parallel teaching reflecting what God often does in our lives; He allows or creates situations for us that seem bad from our viewpoint, but in the end, they prove to be very good for us. And they do because God is always in the business of looking out for what is best for us, others, and His kingdom.
Two days after sharing this illustration with Ron, my wife, Myrna, and I were in a theatre watching a movie called the “Water Diviner” with Russell Crow. It was very good film and based on some true events from World War I. After it ended, while exiting, I tripped on the stairs going down and fell on my bad hip, the one that had been operated on three times in the last nine years. Man, was I hurting; I could hardly make it to the car. We cancelled our planned dinner out afterwards, and just went home where I took a bunch of Advil and lay on the couch. I couldn’t believe it, after so many years of hassle with this hip. Then I said to the Lord, rather frankly, “Lord, why now? I thought this hip was all behind me.”
The next day I hoppled on my cane to the YMCA, where I usually swim on Mondays. I figured that at least I could get some exercise in, even if I couldn’t walk. No problem. On Tuesday, I did the same, but noticed that my ankle had swollen all of a sudden, and I mean really swollen. What was confusing to me was that it was on the opposite leg. As I was ending my swim, Myrna came by with little Connor, our two year old grandson. They were going to swim too in the little tyke’s pool. Hence, I came over to watch them, and said to Myrna, “I can’t believe that my opposite leg is swollen too. Crazy!” Myrna suggested, and strongly suggested, that I stop by the doctor’s office on the way home. They have a good drop-in service, and will see anyone at any time. At first, I said, “No, I don’t want to go through all of that rigmarole,” but relented and did at Myrna’s urging.
The Physician Assistant looked at my leg and said that it was pretty swollen. I told her I had fallen at the theatre a few days earlier. She said, “Well, for safety sake, let’s do an ultra sound on it.” I was surprised for I thought this was a bit of overkill. In fact, I supposed she was just trying to pad the insurance bill. Nevertheless, an appointment was immediately set up to have an ultra-sound done at a local hospital nearby. They took me in right away that afternoon, for they were not very busy. The gal who did the ultra sound was very nice, and did it in about 15 minutes. Afterward, she stepped out of the room and then came back and said, “I called your doctor, and you need to return to his office right away.” Needless to say I was a bit startled, and said in a hushed and rather fearful tone, “Really, and the reason is…?” “You have a blood clot in that leg and it is moving up into your thigh. It needs to be treated.”
So, I hustled back to the doctor’s office where they administered some blood thinning medicine (Xarelto), which I am on now for the next three weeks, and maybe the rest of my life. The Physician Assistant at the office also said, “You are fortunate we caught this when we did for it could have moved up into your lungs and caused bigger problems, even death. “Gulp!”
The point to these two stores is that sometimes God causes or allows a bad thing to happen so a good thing can result. He certainly did with this blood clot that probably had been there for a while. In fact, I remember telling Myrna a week ago that I thought an old blood clot had returned, one that had occurred after my second hip operation several years ago. She said, “You better go in and check it out.” Of course I ignored her advice, but had decided to check it out after we got back from a trip to Los Angeles next month. “Bad decision I now say to myself, a very bad one indeed. Thank you Lord for overriding such a decision; had You not allowed me to trip in that theatre, there is no telling to where this might have led?”
“For 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