Our Extremity Is God-s Opportunity
August 19 2011 by D.E. Parkerson

The shrill ring of the telephone awakened me from sleep several years ago at 2 a.m. A deacon in the church I was serving said, “Preacher, my wife and I are at North Carolina Memorial Hospital. Barry had a bad wreck, and he is dead. Can you come?”

I dressed as quickly as I could and drove to the hospital. When I arrived in their presence at the hospital I found a broken-hearted mother and father whose world had come crashing down around them. Their only child, an outstanding young man who had just graduated from high school, had been brought by an ambulance to the hospital emergency room following a horrific wreck. He didn’t make it. The bright future that had been his only hours prior to that moment would never become a reality.

Has your world ever crashed suddenly around your feet? Have you ever come to the end of your rope? Have you ever found yourself at the end of a dead-end street where it seemed there was no outlet? What did you do? How did you respond?

Charles Colson was heavily involved in the break-in at the Watergate hotel and went to prison. In his book Who Speaks for God he testifies: “Sure, Watergate caused my world to crash around me and sent me to prison. I lost many of the mainstays of my existence — the awards, the six-figure income and lifestyle to match, arguing cases in the highest courts, and a position of power at the right hand of the President of the United States. But only when I lost them did I find a far greater gain: knowing Christ.”

After he was paroled he said, “I wouldn’t trade the toughest day of the last few years — which includes those in prison — for the best day of the 40 years before. What I couldn’t find in my quest for power and success — that is, true security and meaning — I discovered in prison where all my worldly props had been stripped away.”

One of the ways people respond to tragic circumstances is to blame God and cry out to Him, “How could You let this happen to me?” I have known many people who have done that. It has always been interesting to me that many of those who blame God on those days when everything was going wrong have seldom or never given Him praise and thanksgiving when everything was going right.

God never promised any of us a life free from pain and disappointment. He did promise us that we would never be alone in our pain, that we would be able to draw upon a source from outside ourselves the strength and courage we would need to survive even the most difficult moments — that is, if we choose to call upon Him.

Even the starkest tragedies can be redeemed from senselessness if we trust God and ask Him to impose meaning on them. The right question to ask when our world begins to tumble down around us is, “Now that this has happened to me, what can I learn from it by trusting in God’s goodness and guidance?”

We are not alone in our suffering and trial. We all know others who have triumphed over tragedy because they knew they had a Resource, One who cared and comforted and enabled them to find blessing even in their times of brokenness.

The Chinese combine two characters for the word crisis. One character means “danger” and the other “opportunity.” These two possibilities are inherent in every crisis. A crisis is a crossroads, and the outcome is determined by which path is taken.

In other words, our extremity is God’s opportunity.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Parkerson is a native of Georgia, a graduate of Mercer University (B.A.), Southeastern Seminary (M. Div. and Th.M.), and Campbell University (D.D.). He has served as pastor of one church in Georgia and five churches in North Carolina. Following retirement as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Sanford on Sept. 30, 1996, he has served 10 North Carolina churches as interim pastor. His column, The Paper Pulpit, has appeared weekly in a few newspapers and other publications since 1958. He and his wife, Jessie, live in Wilmington near their daughter and family.)
8/19/2011 8:18:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 0 comments

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