Turning Points Magazine & Devotional

December 2022 Issue

Love in the Most Unexpected Way

From the October 2022 Issue

The Opportunity of Uncertainty

The Opportunity of Uncertainty

Your Choice in the Matter

Walter Hunt, a Quaker in New York in the 1800s, was in financial distress. He owed fifteen dollars for the month’s rent, and the owner was demanding payment. Hunt was an inventor. As he sat and worried about his uncertain future, he began twisting a piece of wire. His attention fixated on the wire, and he kept bending it one way and the other until he … well, he invented the safety pin.

He sold the design for four-hundred dollars, and his invention has kept us in stitches ever since.1

Great opportunities tend to bubble up from puddles of uncertainty.

The word uncertainty implies insecurity. When our finances, our future, or our times are unsettled, it’s hard to cast out worry. It twists us in knots, but sometimes even the knots can become blessings.

Now, without Christ, we should feel uncertain and insecure. Ecclesiastes 10:8-9 says, “When you dig a well, you might fall in. When you demolish an old wall, you could be bitten by a snake. When you work in a quarry, stones might fall and crush you. When you chop wood, there is danger with each stroke of your ax” (NLT). Everyone on earth is subject to sudden death at any moment of any day. From a heart attack to a traffic accident, we don’t know what’s coming.

That’s why a 2022 study by Mental Health America found fifty million adults are experiencing a mental illness, and more than eleven million have serious suicidal thoughts.2 Praise God, we have an Anchor to stabilize the boat, a guiding Star to lead the way, and a Shepherd to watch over us in the dark valleys.

From personal experience I’ve found that great opportunities tend to bubble up from puddles of uncertainty. We can make safety pins out of wires and testimonies out of traumas. In the broad canvas of humanity—and in the individual sketches of our personal lives—peril brings promise within the remarkable parameters of God’s providence.

The great thing is this: You have a choice in how things turn out. Because of all we read in God’s Word, we have the capacity, through Christ, to thrive rather than survive.

Surviving

When we sink our roots deeply into Christ, we move beyond surviving.

Most people are in survival mode. In fact, we take pride in being called survivors. If you don’t believe that, consider that the CBS show Survivor is now in its forty-second season! If you’re a survivor of any kind—congratulations! Many of you, like me, are cancer survivors. Some have survived harrowing abuse or near-fatal accidents. We survive hurricanes, tornados, wars, and rumors of war.

I just read about a survivor of the war in Ukraine. She and her daughter were awakened one morning in Kyiv by the ground shaking from bombs. They fled and are now safe in Germany. She said, “Everything I thought I had (material things, money) was an illusion…. I realize now that the only thing that matters in the world for me is people and their kindness.”3

Despite the blessings that come with survival, it’s not really the word we want to describe us. It identifies us with past trauma, but there’s more to victory than surviving, than simply hanging on or getting by. When we sink our roots deeply into Christ, we move beyond surviving. We find ourselves, by grace, thriving in these pre-Rapture days.

Thriving

As you trust the Lord amid trials, you’ll find a new impulse to move forward and make progress in life.

Allen Emery was a close friend of evangelist Billy Graham and a highly respected business leader during the last half of the twentieth century. He came from a family of wool merchants and took over a major textile operation. But the changing markets brought uncertainty to the industry, and Allen struggled to keep the business going. One evening he checked into a hotel after a difficult day, and he was as discouraged as he had ever felt. He expected to lose his best account the next day.

In his fatigue, he nearly neglected his bedtime Bible reading. After all, it was midnight. But the Holy Spirit nudged him, and he opened to the passage about Elijah at the Brook Cherith where he was fed by ravens. “And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land” (1 Kings 17:7).

But Elijah’s dry stream became the pathway of provision because God sent him to Zarephath, where a widow cared for him, with attending miracles!

Emery realized the brook of his business was drying up, but he decided to rejoice, knowing God had something for him next. He decided to thrive, and he went on to become a powerful business leader who served on boards of leading Christian organizations and led large Bible studies for young people.

It’s disquieting when we watch brooks dry up. Every day they run a little lower until the trickle disappears. But the Lord has appointments for us in Zarephath if we’ll just follow the creek bed.

Opportunities to Trust

You’ll start thriving when you view uncertainty as an opportunity to trust God in fresh ways. Faith doesn’t have much to do on sunny days. It’s not put to the test when everything in life feels perfect. Tenacious trust happens when things go wrong, uncertainties arise, perils threaten, and disappointments come. David wrote, “Fear is on every side…. But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies” (Psalm 31:13-15).

Take your inner pulse. Are there flickers of anxiety in your mind? Lines of worry on your face? Bouts of sleeplessness due to stress? It’s an opportunity to memorize and meditate on a fresh verse. Let me give you three from which to choose—one I’ve already quoted from Psalms, one from the Gospels, and one from the epistles. Pick the verse that speaks the most to you. Write it where you can see it. Quote it aloud when you arise, at mealtimes, and at bedtime:

  • But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand (Psalm 31:14-15).
  • So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God” (Mark 11:22).
  • And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith (1 John 5:4).

Opportunities to Move Forward

As you trust the Lord amid trials, you’ll find a new impulse to move forward and make progress in life. The book of Ezekiel begins: “Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year” (1:1). Scholars debate the meaning of “the thirtieth year,” but it seems obvious. Ezekiel was a young priest who, just as he was getting ready for service in the glorious temple of Solomon, was seized by the Babylonians and taken into exile. His future disappeared into the rearview mirror. Ezekiel would never be able to serve in the presence of the glory of God.

But wait!

The glory of God came to Ezekiel in his thirtieth year, when, according to the Mosaic Law, he was old enough for temple service. There in Babylon the Lord appeared to Ezekiel in one of the most glorious visions of the Bible and commissioned him as both priest and prophet to the exiles.

For the child of God, there is always a “But wait!” moment when misfortune leads to fresh encounters with God’s will. Ephesians 1:10 says, “At the right time he will bring everything together” (NLT). The Lord is always moving forward, and He takes His children with Him—at the right time.

Opportunities to Share Christ

Finally, we thrive amid the difficulties when we learn to find ways of bringing Jesus into the conversations around us. We can use the events of the day and the stains of life as talking points about the return of Christ. There’s never an event that doesn’t lend itself to saying a word for the Lord if we simply learn to look for it. And the unfolding events in the headlines are dramatic examples of the World of the End.

Marjorie Caines lost her husband, mother, and aunt within the space of a year. To recover, she spoke with pastors, enrolled in Bible studies, and saw how biblical heroes dealt with their problems. “I [have learned] not to let my past define my future,” she said. “Instead, I try to use Godly wisdom to direct my choices in this life…. Now I’m more equipped to share my faith to touch lives.”4

You can do the same. Even if all you have left is a piece of wire, bend it into a safety pin! Turn the Last Days into lasting ministries, and make up your mind to be a thriver, not just a survivor.

Sources:

1“Walter Hunt: Safety Pin,” Lemelson-MIT.

2“Adult Data 2022,” Mental Health America.

3Christ Gilbert, “When Loss, Trauma and Anxiety Lead to Transformative Growth,” Psychology Today, June 10, 2022.

4Nadia Arandjelovic, “Strengthened Through Faith After Personal Loss,” The Royal Gazette, June 22, 2019.

This Month's Magazine Resource

Moments With God

This devotional is a collection of moments with God. You can read each page on the prescribed day as a supplement to your Bible reading and prayer. You’ll find biblical insights here on familiar (and unfamiliar) verses in the Bible.

Learn More »

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