In a moment of self-evaluation, it recently occurred to me that I have been existing under a cloud that I wasn’t even aware of. I couldn’t understand why I don’t seem to be progressing in many aspects of my life. I don’t seem to have the drive to accomplish difficult things that I did when I was younger. I just assumed that it was un unfortunate result of getting older.
According to Wikipedia, Tsutomu Yamaguchi was a survivor of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings during World War II. Although at least 160 people are known to have been affected by both bombings, he is the only person to have been officially recognized by the government of Japan as surviving both explosions. A resident of Nagasaki, Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on business for his employer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries when the city was bombed at 8:15 am, on August 6, 1945. The following day, he returned to Nagasaki and, despite his wounds, also returned to work on August 9, the day of the second atomic bombing. In 1957, he was recognized as a hibakusha (explosion-affected person) of the Nagasaki bombing, but it was not until March 24, 2009 that the government of Japan officially recognized his presence in Hiroshima three days earlier. He died of stomach cancer on January 4, 2010 at the age of 93.
Can you imagine living through those horrific experiences? Or picture Job losing everything in rapid succession? Or the children of Israel slowly coming under complete Egyptian subjugation? Or Joseph begin sold into slavery by his brothers? Or how about Paul? I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. (II Corinthians 11:23-28) There are many examples of “bad luck” in both the Old Testament and New Testament and certainly many instances in our own lives and the lives of those around us.
But the thing to remember is that God always made a way for those who suffered the bad luck to make a come-back. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:1-11) Job ended up with more than he had to begin with.
When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before! Then all his brothers, sisters, and former friends came and feasted with him in his home. And they consoled him and comforted him because of all the trials the Lord had brought against him. And each of them brought him a gift of money and a gold ring. So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. For now he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 teams of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He also gave Job seven more sons and three more daughters. He named his first daughter Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. In all the land no women were as lovely as the daughters of Job. And their father put them into his will along with their brothers. (Job 42:10-15) Moses led the children of Israel on a 40-year exodus that eventually led to the Promised Land. Joseph became the most powerful man in Egypt after Pharoah. But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. (Genesis 50:20) Paul became one of the greatest evangelical apostles and wrote much of the New Testament. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. (II Corinthians 12:9) Even Mr. Yamaguchi survived with his wife (who survived Nagasaki) to have two children–both girls and remained a successful businessman throughout his long life.
So if your circumstances seem to be running toward the negative for a long stretch of time and you feel beaten and worn down, comfort yourself with the knowledge that God has everything under control.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. (Proverbs 19:21)
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:8-11)
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:34)
But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)