When a Bad Thing and a Good Thing Are the Same Thing

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The difficult times in our lives can be the exact opportunities we need to learn not to quit. We learn to be brave and do the hard things again and again and again.

“These are the nations the LORD left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience).” Judges 3:1-2 (NIV)

There it was. That beautiful voice, drifting down the stairs, once again. If only I could understand even one of the words she sang. The fullness of her operatic tone belonged in a cathedral not holed up in the tiny bedroom where she practiced with her piano again and again and again.

For months, my daughter Mariah practiced, went to lessons and followed every instruction given by her vocal instructor. She wanted to be part of our state’s honor choir, and she committed to doing what it took to be chosen.

The first scary step involved singing a solo for her teacher. Terrified, she signed up for the audition and gave it her all. Several days later, she got the great news. She made the cut!

Next, she traveled hours away for the state audition. With my ear glued to the thick, wooden door, I strained to hear that expressive melody again as Mariah sang for the panel of judges. College professors and professionals would make the call. The hours of waiting dragged as we paced the halls. We were told the list would be posted outside the door.

When the results were finally tacked on the board, Mariah’s name was missing. Certainly there was a mistake. Didn’t they hear her? The disappointment Mariah felt overwhelmed her. She had worked so hard this year. Next year, she would train even harder.

The next year, she did it all again. Sang for her teacher. Traveled to the state audition. Performed for the judges.

Again she didn’t make the honor choir. And that was it. She was a senior; there would be no more opportunities.

Sometimes, even when we do the scary thing, the brave thing, it still doesn’t work out.

As her mom, it crushed my heart to witness Mariah’s pain, not once but twice. I wanted to fix her heartache, take the bad pain away. Looking back, it was a good thing I couldn’t take it away.

Mariah could have quit after the first time. Even after the second rejection, Mariah could have been done doing hard things. When I asked her how she remained so positive, she said, “Because I believed I could do it.”

Did you catch what happened? After Mariah allowed herself some time to feel sad about her loss, she eventually became even braver! Doing the scary thing prepared Mariah to be brave again and again. She knew if she could do it once, she could find the courage to do it again.

No one wants their loved one to hurt or feel pain. If I could have stepped in to remove the hard thing, I would have eliminated the test. Yet if I could have taken away this trial, I would have gotten in the way of Mariah learning to be strong, brave and confident and stunted her growth in trying hard things for the rest of her life.

It’s been five years since that hard time. And today, Mariah is one of the most courageous people I know.

In today’s passage of Judges 3, the Lord allowed the Israelites’ enemies to remain in the Promised Land for one reason: to teach them. He wanted His people to learn how to do hard things, depend on Him and not run away.

These difficult times in our lives can be the exact opportunities we need to learn not to quit. Here, we learn to be brave and to do the hard things again and again and again. In the tough places, we can learn that our God is faithful to help us; He will never leave or forsake us. That is when the bad thing becomes a good thing.

Dear God, I want to develop courage and bravery and help others in my life become courageous and brave too. Help me remember that even if the trial is hard, You are beside me. I trust You. Please help me with __________________ {fill in the blank}. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (NIV)

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (NIV)


REFLECT AND RESPOND:
When was a time in your life that something good came from the bad?

If you’re a parent, think of one hard thing your child is going through. How can you help your child see through the bad to the good? Consider praying for and/or with them, writing them a note or listening to them and then sharing your own experience.

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