Beauty Out of Ashes

Yesterday, as I was reviewing notes from a workshop I’ve taught on trials and suffering, I was again counseled by these words from Jerry Bridges:

“As we watch tragic events unfolding, or more particularly as we experience adversity ourselves, we often are prone to ask God, ‘Why?’ The reason we ask is because we do not see any possible good to us or glory to God that can come from the particular adverse circumstances that have come upon us or our loved ones. But is not the wisdom of God—thus the glory of God—more eminently displayed in bringing good out of calamity than out of blessing?

The wisdom of the chess player is displayed more in winning over a capable opponent than over a novice. The wisdom of the general is displayed more in defeating a superior army than in subduing an inferior one. Even more so, the wisdom of God is displayed when He brings good to us and glory to Himself out of confusion and calamity rather than out of pleasant times.

There is no question that God’s people live in a hostile world. We have an enemy, the Devil, [who] ‘prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8). He wants to sift us like wheat as he did Peter (Luke 22:31), or make us curse God as he tried to get Job to do. God does not spare us from the ravages of disease, heartache, and disappointment of this sin-cursed world. But God is able to take all of these elements—the bad as well as the good—and make full use of every one.

As someone years ago said, ‘A lesser wisdom than the divine would feel impelled to forbid, to circumvent or to resist the outworking of these hellish plans. It is a fact that often God’s people try to do this themselves, or cry unceasingly to the Lord that He may do it. So it is that prayers often seem to lie unanswered. For we are being handled by a wisdom which is perfect, a wisdom which can achieve what it [intends] by taking hold of things and people which are meant for evil and making them work together for good.’ashes

God’s infinite wisdom then is displayed in bringing good out of evil, beauty out of ashes. It is displayed in turning all the forces of evil that rage against His children into good for them. But the good that He brings about is often different than the good we envision.”

[From Chapter 8, “The Wisdom of God” in Jerry Bridges, Trusting God, Even when Life Hurts.]

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