Text Size: Zoom In

Unwanted Opportunity

Jonah's Challenge in Tel Aviv Storefront Window

Followers of Christ often find it easy to affirm the importance of faith, hope, and love. We acknowledge that according to the Scriptures, without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). We hear that without love we are somewhere between noise and nothing (1Cor 13:1-2). We admit that without hope, we are just like those who are without God in the world (1Thess 4:13).

But here’s the problem:

  1. How can we show faith… without problems that bring us to the end of ourselves (2Cor 1:9)?
  2. How can we show hope in God (Rom 5:2-4)… as long as our world is secure and intact?
  3. How can we show the love we are called to (1Cor 13)… unless someone insults us, betrays our trust, or deprives us of natural affection?

Could it be that the problems we would never ask for or even wish on others are actually giving us—in proportion to their degree of difficulty—our opportunities for faith, hope, and love?

Am beginning to realize I’ve spent way too much of my life asking God for conditions that give me a chance to show natural capacity and affection—rather the faith, hope, and love of Christ…

Vote on whether you think this post is something you'll be thinking about:
Vote This Post DownVote This Post Up (+67 rating, 69 votes)

25 Responses to “Unwanted Opportunity”

  1. Jason says:

    Hello all, trials make us stronger, that which does not kill me will make me stronger. I’ve had to forgive my father. He has had no contact with me or my brother for the past 14 years and we don’t know where he lives. I still love my dad. When we were growing up he was an atheist, didn’t believe in God. I’ve learned that forgiving isn’t so much good for the hurter but for the one who is hurt. I don’t hold anger in my heart, it’s too toxic. If I can love people that are rude, insensitive, etc, then they lose their power to hurt me. Jesus wants us to love our brothers and sisters on this planet. I do my best and sometimes fall short.

    Have a good night,

  2. Bob in Cornwall England says:

    Good Morning Mart,
    I can’t chat long as it is 6:30 and I have to be at work by 7:00

    I have many experiences myself and may relate them later, but I am always struck by those who have had a loved one killed or murdered and then can come straight out in public and on TV and say that they hold no malice and are able to forgive the attacker and are praying for his family etc.
    Often Jesus is not mentioned but He can be seen.
    None of us want this type of “opportunity” but it can bring great glory to God.


  3. SFDBWV says:

    Mart, Your three point questions are good thoughts and in some way answer themselves.

    “How can we show faith without problems that bring us to the end of ourselves?”

    Sometimes I wish I had known a way to not have had to endure the pains I have had to experiance and continue to, in my walk with God. But this is not the way, not for me.

    Because God loves me, he disciplines me. But even better than discipline He teaches me through whatever means it takes to get through to me.

    Often I will tell another, do not ask God to use you, unless you are prepared for what comes next.

    He will use you, but in ways you never immagined nor would ever have wanted in your life.

    So one must remember to not be too cavalier when embarking upon a life for Christ. It is serious business.

    One that will, for most people, never reult in others knowing the depth and heighth you have traveled in your faith.

    Yet, whether we are aware or not, others are watching, and waiting to see how far we can go before we crack. Amazed at how far faith can take us.

    For this reason,and purpose, We grow, and are a living sacrifice and example for Christ.


  4. SFDBWV says:

    “How can we show hope in God, as long as our world is secure and intact?”

    I wonder if anyone’s life is secure and intact? If they feel it is, most often it is because they are protected and unaware or living under an illusion.

    In what do we place our security? Money? Marriage? Employment? Home? Friends? Family? All of these things are not secure in anyones life.

    Take them away and what are we left with?

    If we base our security in God alone, all of these ather things he may added to you.

    Some have to lose these false securities in order to realize this truth, while others are blessed enough to have seen others lose theirs and know that the same can happen to any at any time. Always thankful each day for having what they have.

    One way to show hope while you feel secure, is to give hope to another. Hope for them, hope with them, believe with them, share their pain and long for their delivery…with them.

    Your faith can give hope to another.


  5. rxman says:

    The last part of you comments about asking God for conditions that give the the opportunity to show natural capacity and affection, rather than the faith, hope, and love of Christ made me think. Should I be asking God to put me into those difficult situations? I don’t think so.

    There are enough of those situations that occur daily. My problem is I either let those situations pass me by or I respond in a worldly way. I think maybe I need to be ready to respond in a Christ-like manner. But how do I consistently do this? Do I prepare myself as I wake up in the morning? Do I prepare my heart as I brush my teeth? Do I set my mind to this task as I leave the house? Do I pray more, read the Bible more? Or do I just get off my lazy butt and do it?

  6. refump says:

    I remember when the bumper sticker came out, “Jesus is the answer”. People would poke fun at it by saying, “What is the question?”. That smug response normally comes from someone that has not had a tragedy or a difficult trial come their way. Steve, you said “one must remember to not be too cavalier when embarking upon a life for Christ. It is serious business”. Well said. Having grown up in the church & living a sheltered life I know how easy it is to ask God to use us when caught up in an emotional spiritual moment without “counting the cost”. Not that we should stop asking God to use us but to be aware that He is not just going to wave his magic wand over us & we become instantly used by Him. He is most likely going to take us through some rough waters to be able to truly empathize with those He has called us to minister to. (Most alcohol counselors are former alcoholics.) What is amazing though, is experiencing God’s grace He bestows upon us during those trials we go through as He readies us to be used by Him. It is God revealing Himself to us in a way we would never have known had we not gone through that trial.

  7. xrgarza says:

    These are all good points that I have been asking myself for quite some time. It is very easy to be rhetorical not only about our faith but our entire lives.

    To develop new habits or techniques, does not happen simply because you agree on a thought or a concept. One has to practice, practice, practice.

    How does one practice without constant opportunities? Years ago a program was developed and implemented in our public schools teaching students what to do in case they found themselves in a fire we are all very familiar with the drill: “Stop, Drop, & Roll”

    I think we as Christians need to develop a drill for our spiritual lives, it could be as simple as “Stop, Kneel, & Pray”

    How does one change paradigm’s when it seems that hope is all gone?, How does one stop a high speed locomotive when the brakes are gone?

    Only through the hope that we find in our Lord Jesus Christ


  8. marma says:

    The natural…in good conditions…we can do ourselves. Who can’t?!

    The others (points 1,2,3) must be done by the Holy Spirit working through us as we yield to Him.

    Often the first lesson I learn with faith, hope, or love, is that I can’t, or fall short. Then I’m ready to yield.

    If I were “spiritually smarter” I’d believe that from the get go. Those tough conditions actually help me there.

  9. Daego says:

    Thanks for the post and all the replies. This is a really good place to think through some tough topics. We are often inclined to ask for bless instead of to ask what the truth is. We just don’t know what to discuss in our group meeting.

  10. scout1 says:

    Thank you Mart for this very insightful post. I liked the questions that you posed. I also believe that in the training phase that the Lord puts us through -to go from natural man -to spiritual person is difficult.

    The important thing is what did we learn? Did it change us toward a Christ like heart or did we get bitter, have despair or anger toward the God of that trial? In my life, I am starting to try to be more aware and sensitive to what I’m suppose to be learning.

    I want a heart like Jesus. We have His Holy Spirit but I still want my heart to be shaped like His. That’s where I am trying to be on-guard against Satan. Rebelling against the Lord’s will and hanging on to my natural tendencies comes so easy.

    Thank you Lord for the opportunity to pray and ask to receive His power each day to exercise -Faith -Hope and Love. Even asking for the desires in my heart and in my attitude, that I will want His changes for me.

    Just a thought,

  11. SFDBWV says:

    Thinking about all three questions brings me to another line of thought.

    What is the purpose of growing and learning?

    To make us better people? To be a better representative for Christ?

    We are to be a light in a dark world. We are to be so different that people take notice as well as follow our lead toward the Christ.

    Yet from birth to death, if we continue to grow spiritualy, just when we peak…..we die.

    When I read the teachings of Christ, it is always about crops…sowing seeds, finding good or bad soil, reaping when the harvest is ripe, producing fruit or withering and dying.

    I have stated before, that it seems we are being prepared for a use both here and in the Kingdom.

    That the, on the job training here has a benifit to thoes around us here as well as it hones our skills and usefulness to a more perfect use in the coming Kingdom.

    I also believe that as we are getting closer to the end of this great growing season, we who are here are given a special dose of *Miracle Grow* in order to expediate our growth……Trials, tribulations, opportunities…

    It becomes then our choice, as to what we do with what is set before us.


  12. rokdude5 says:

    I remembered being told “be careful what you pray for.” One favorite request is “please give me more patience.” Well, as you know, patience also means “long suffering”. Do we really truly want that? I think not.

    All the points you raised Mart, are on the mark. Since we are believers, we must remembered and give thanks to God who provided us with the comforts of the day. We all could have been borned hundreds or thousands of years ago when things were much more arduous. I guess God knows that I am such a “softie” put in a place and time that perhaps in spite of his earthly splendor, King Solomon would envy. All I can do is give thanks and praises to Him!

    This topic reminds me of what Peter said in 1 Pet 4:12-19:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.

    14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God.

    17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?

    19 Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

    Everyone has some life difficulties. One of our gift to God for saving us from the ultimate sufferings in Hades is to be like His Son when life challenges confront us so the world would know how much God means to us. Job 6:10 Heb 5:7,8 “RJ”

  13. poohpity says:

    Amen, RJ.

    I believe we come to a point where we totally understand that material gain is not a sign of the Lord’s blessing. A point where we understand that suffering and trials do not mean the Lord has left us. A time where we need no longer ask for justice but show it. A time where we no longer desire the affirmations from people but find our identity and security in our relationship with the Lord. There will come a time that no matter what happens in this physical life that we will be able to praise the Lord in ALL things.

    I think when we truly understand that our faith is not something we have earned or developed but it is a gift from God. Hope is not dependent on the things we see around us but in the unchangeable, unmovable and dependable God we believe in. Love is no longer a feeling but what we show to others by considering what is in their best interest no matter what is shown back to us. Understanding whatever is in the road ahead we are not left alone to go through it and that it all works for the common good of all man kind not just our little world but our little world is never forgotten or thought of as unimportant by our Lord.

    Then every opportunity whether wanted or unwanted is a chance to grow in a knowledge and understanding of just how big our God truly is.

  14. bubbles says:

    Yesterday morning’s sermon was about Jesus walking on the water in Mark 5/Matthew 14. This story has been read many times, but I learned something new that goes along with today’s blog.

    When the disciples were out in the sea during the storm, and were afraid, they were in God’s will. Jesus had TOLD them to go to the other side of the sea. The disciples didn’t turn around and go back, they continued to row the boat. During this storm, Jesus came walking to them on the water. When Jesus came into the boat, they said, “Of a truth thou art the Son of God.” Matt. 14:33

    So, the lesson pointed out was that we will have ‘storms’ of life when we are doing what God wants us to do, and through those difficult times, we can learn something about our Father that we may not otherwise have learned. No one wants to experience difficulties in life. But they are an opportunity for our faith to deepen and grow. Then, we can say, “Look what the Lord has done for me,” and he gets the glory in in it.

    We need to be like an old tree that has weathered storms. Just as difficulties have made its roots grow deep into the earth, strengthening it, we need to spend time with the Lord, deepening our roots and preparing ourselves for the problems in life.

  15. SFDBWV says:

    “How can we show the love we are called to, unless someone insults us, betrays our trust, or deprives us of natural affection?”

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the world we lived in were populated with people who were considerate of the feelings of other people.

    But we do not.

    People who are rude and unfeeling towards another is like a thief, that can steal your joy.

    Like a burgular, they intrude into your mind and heart and take something from you, leaving you with a sense of being violated.

    Of the three points this is the one that is most difficult to master.

    Show love to someone who won’t love you back, say nothing when insulted, forgive when someone steals from you, lies about you or violates your trust…

    Some people harden their hearts to a degree that they cannot be hurt by others. The cost of this type of shield is that love can’t get in or come out.

    When Jesus ask for His friends to stay with Him throughout the night, in the garden, the night of His arrest. He was hurt by their lack of effort to stay awake. A small thing perhaps but He did rebuke them for their lack of effort.

    It would appear that Jesus experianced the human feelings of disapointment, fear, and saddness.

    Yes 1 Cor 13 explains how we are to love, this being How Christ loves, but Rocky is quite correct when he says “practice, practice practice”.

    Like a muscle, this is an exercise that must be practiced in order to develop….Like any muscle building program, more weight is added to develop stronger muscle.

    So be prepared that the stronger you get in this area, the more difficult the exercise will become.

    So, all three points Mart has opened up for our discussion are all entended for our development. Not so much a test but an exercise.


  16. scout1 says:

    Good Morning!

    Hey, Steve -I have really enjoyed reading your posts. I can really relate to the last post. Thank you for always sharing with us. I appreciate how open you have shared your life. Do you teach Sunday School or some Bible class? I sure hope so. You would be a very good teacher!


  17. SFDBWV says:

    Lynda, Thank you, I haven’t been involved with teaching in church for quite some time. Not since I had a youth group I ministered to.

    Since My son’s disabling injuries, now 11 years ago, my ability to be away from him or for him to be out of the house has been greatly diminished.

    However I get to talk to a great many people, and as it happens I have found many friends here in this blog with which to exchange ideas and comments with. I learn from each and every person and am thankful to have been given this opportunity to be here among so many good Christian people, like yourself.

    God Bless and thank you again.


  18. Samantha says:

    Hi Steve
    I like to thank God through you for His words that inspired us. I am recently posted to work in another country without my family and it is tough to stay alone. God never moves without a purpose which my family (my husband and I together with my daughter) have been busy with our lives back in my own country which we don’t attend church..though we used to.
    But in our hearts we knew this is not correct. Since I am alone, I have alot of time myself which I am attending a bible church now in this country. God speaks to me in many ways, through people and through His words. Each day, I am being trialed and washed down and even met up with people who discriminate me of a different skin. I find it hard to forgive and forget. It is true that without trials and without temptations, without faith, we almost forgot about God and become self reliance in our comfort zone. The example of Jacob and other bible characters sometimes brings lights into our lifes. Only when we are washed down, we will see how God works.
    I thank God for Him to give me every opportunity to love Him and to depend on Him.
    I want to thank God to provide me trials to relied on Him so that my faith can grow.
    I want to thank God for providing me people like you too to speak to me His words. Thank you and keep up the good work. May the Lord Bless u and keep u …

  19. scout1 says:

    Your Welcome! :)

  20. SFDBWV says:

    Samantha, God bless you and empower you for His work and purpose.

    Church is in your heart, and I can easily see that Christ, the head of our body is there within you.

    I will add you to our prayers, and remember you, as we together lift up our Lord, for a light to draw all to Him.

    Thank You

  21. Regina says:

    Good Afternoon All,

    An early morning neighborhood power outage meant no electricity in my house for a little more than two hours. I thank God my food didn’t spoil.

    Mart – You brought up some good questions in your comment. I want to speak to your question: “Could it be that the problems we would never ask for or even wish on others are actually giving us—in proportion to their degree of difficulty—our opportunities for faith, hope, and love?”

    My answer to this question is “yes.”
    Faith – I’ve learned from others and from my own experiences that when people watch someone go through tough times with a Christ-like attitude it (sometimes) gives them the courage and inspiration to endure their own adversity with, at the very least, a better attitude.

    Hope – Having a Christ-like attitude and putting my faith and hope in God when facing problems I would never ask for could also be a catalyst to win a person to Christ (1 Pet. 3:15, NIV; Heb. 11:1).

    Love – There have been times when I knew a person was going through tough times and I wished I could have helped them out, and there have been times when I could help someone. I’ve learned that prayer is very helpful in any situation. Jesus said it’s more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35, NLT), and while that’s sometimes hard to live out (especially when faced with problems I would never ask for) I desire to be a giver because I know it pleases God.


  22. davids says:

    Well, I failed today. My son and a friend ran into the back yard, afraid because a couple of boys had been harrasing them. Did I show God’s love?

    No! I went out front and gave them a good dressing down. The urge to protect the ones I love can so easily overcome the desire to please the God I love.

    I guess I am having trouble understanding Mart’s questions, when I seem to fail almost daily in the opportunities to show faith, hope, and love toward others.

  23. poohpity says:

    davids, I would have failed too. I do everyday in some way or another. Mercy are new every morning but sometimes they are every hour for me, lol.

  24. Regina says:

    I’ve read a few comments now, and refump’s comment (9:28 am):

    “He is not just going to wave his magic wand over us & we become instantly used by Him. He is most likely going to take us through some rough waters to be able to truly empathize with those He has called us to minister to. (Most alcohol counselors are former alcoholics.) What is amazing though, is experiencing God’s grace He bestows upon us during those trials we go through as He readies us to be used by Him. It is God revealing Himself to us in a way we would never have known had we not gone through that trial.”

    reminded me of something I heard a Pastor say on the radio this afternoon, He compared using an iron to “press” wrinkled clothes to God using trials (& tough problems) as a form of “pressing us” in order to purge us of pride, carnality, and selfish ambition and make us more like Christ.

    He said that when we press clothes, we make sure that the iron is not too hot because we don’t want to burn/destroy the clothing we just want to “press out” the wrinkles so the garment looks good on us. The Pastor said that God is not trying to kill us, He just wants to “press us” –take away carnal character traits and give us His character traits–so He can look good on us.


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.