One of my favorite writers is Charles Dickens and one of my favorite books is A Tale of Two Cities. It begins with the classic opening line: “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”
What a brilliant example of a paradox: two apparently opposing thoughts in the same truth. How can we be having both the best and worst of times… at the same time?
Times in our lives that seem difficult are also wonderful opportunities to discover God’s favor.
We can always experience the favor of the Lord, but it means the most when we need it the most. When we’re feeling overwhelmed by our circumstances, we’re perfectly poised to experience being overwhelmed by the favor and the goodness of the Lord instead.
In times of challenge, we can find ourselves tired, lacking energy. Do you know why it’s tiring?
It’s because we have not yet seen the joy in it. If you are going to develop a discipline or overcome an obstacle, you’ll need to connect with the delight in it. Every obstacle I’ve overcome, at some point, required me to either jump in or walk away. So when I jumped in, I decided to do it joyfully.
I’m always amazed when I ask someone how it’s going, and they say in a very Eeyore type of voice,
“Well… you know… the Lord is really changing me…(sigh).”
So I’ll ask, “What is He changing?”
And often the reply is,
“Well.. stuff in my life that He thinks is not helpful. Do you think it’s helpful?”
I’ll counter. “I guess not.”
Then, why would we want to view our situations with that lens?
God is absolutely delighted to enter your process of development.
While your circumstances may not be easy, you can totally connect with His joy about being in it with you. Jesus is the Overcomer.
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
He adores showing up in your life as the Overcomer.
Let’s embrace that as our reality and stand a little taller, smile a little more often and tap into the anticipation because Jesus has a way of making you more like Him in all of this.
I don’t want to miss any of the pleasure of God in what He is taking me through. I want to enjoy this time. None of us wants to talk up the story later about how brilliant we were going through it all—when everyone knows we resisted every step of the way.
You’re so much better than that.
Think of all the places with God that you’ve overcome together. Enter into a time of thanksgiving and rejoicing for what you’ve seen so far. Let a sense of earnest expectation begin to rise as to what you’re about to see next.
For many of us, this is the best AND the worst of times, and I’m choosing to focus on the best. It’s a choice and I want it to always be the choice I make. I know God will faithfully provide a promise, because that’s what makes it the best of times. I want to actively look for that provision and I know just where to find it: right next to the problem. He makes it so simple, even an Englishman can discover it!
Let’s make our promises our prayer closet, the place where we come and declare that while there may be situations that seem the worst, God is faithful to always provide the best.
PS) You can learn more about this approach to the best and worst of times, in my teaching Opportunity in the Place of Confinement. It’s currently available as a FREE download this month at Brilliant Book House. Click here to get your copy now!