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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

August 12, 2016

"Why is this happening to me?"

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

For a research project an author once interviewed 24 people who had been prisoners of war during World War II. None of them had been tortured or in any other manner physically mistreated. Nevertheless, during their imprisonment they did suffer from cold, hunger, isolation and uncertainty concerning their own personal future.

One of the questions the interviewees answered was: "What effect did your imprisonment have on the rest of your life?" Without exception everyone interviewed said that their experience did have a positive effect on their later life – because of the lessons they learned. But they also added that none of them would have been willing to volunteer for imprisonment to learn those lessons.

Who puts himself into difficult circumstances voluntarily so he can learn some lessons? Probably no one.

One time King David was surrounded in a city by his enemies. He could have expected the worst to happen, but God gave him strength and hope (Psalm 31:21-24).

You could argue that the apostle Paul volunteered for imprisonment when he as a Roman citizen appealed to have his case heard by the Roman emperor. His decision lead to a dangerous journey to Rome and a two year period there of house arrest.

Many would have become discouraged under those circumstances, but Paul could see the positive:

"But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear" (Philippians 1:12-14).

When we go through a difficult phase in life, we can be sure that God is aware of it, allowing us to experience it. And there is always the silver lining in such situations if we have eyes to see, as the apostle Paul did.

Or, as he put it: "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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