Problems don’t always come in threes. Sometimes they come in fours, fives, or sixes. Consider the patriarch Jacob. He had lost one son. Another had been accused of espionage and was imprisoned. Now his beloved Benjamin was in danger. Family problems multiplied, a famine struck, and the whole family teetered on the edge of starvation. Jacob, aged and defeated, complained, “All these things are against me.”
His attitude was understandable, but he badly underestimated God’s care. He didn’t realize the truth of Hudson Taylor’s little poem:
Ill that God blesses is our good
And unblest good is ill;
And all is right that seems most wrong
If it be his sweet will.
In A Turtle on a Fencepost, Allan Emery tells of accompanying businessman Ken Hansen to visit a hospitalized employee. The patient lay very still, his eyes conveying anguish. His operation had taken eight hours, and recovery was long and uncertain.
“Alex,” said Ken quietly, “you know I have had a number of serious operations. I know the pain of trying to talk. I think I know what questions you’re asking. There are two verses I want to give you—Genesis 42:36 and Romans 8:28. We have the option of these two attitudes. We need the perspective of the latter.”
Hansen turned to the passages, read them, then prayed and left. The young man, Alex Balc, took the message to heart. He later enjoyed full recovery.
Every day we choose one of these attitudes amid life’s difficulties—to be beat-up, or to be up-beat. To say with Jacob in Genesis 42:36: All these things are against me.
Or to say with Paul in Romans 8:28: All these things are working together for good to those who love the Lord. …