An evangelist told the following story in one of his campaigns. He said, “I have a friend who during the depression lost a job, a fortune, a wife, and a home, but tenaciously held to his faith – the only thing he had left. One day he stopped to watch some men building a stone church. One of them was chiseling a triangular piece of rock. ‘What are you going to do with that?’ asked my friend. The workman said, ‘Do you see that little opening way up there near the spire? Well, I’m shaping this down here so that it will fit in up there.’ Tears filled the eyes of the heartbroken man as he walked away. It seemed that God had spoken through the workman to explain the ordeal through which he was passing.”

Perhaps you have recently suffered a great loss. Or maybe you are experiencing physical or emotional pain. The outward man seems to be “perishing.” Yet, if you know the Lord as your Savior, you need not despair. All these things are under the loving hand of your heavenly Father, who is using them to prepare you for heaven.

-Sermons Illustrated November/December 1988

 

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Stepping Stones

Years ago a small group of Japanese believers were hackled and abused whenever they assembled to worship the Savior. But the persecutors could not shake the faith of the new converts. Each time the Christians gathered the mob would throw stones at them, but they still faithfully continued to have their weekly meetings. Eventually the opposition became so great that the outdoor services had to be temporarily abandoned. Later, when a time of relative peace and tolerance had come to the community many were won to Christ. Returning to the spot where the believers had frequently been attacked, they began to pick up some of the rocks. Using them as part of the building materials, they constructed a small house of worship, rejoicing that God had worked all things together for good.

Jesus says that His followers will meet with suffering and heartache, but He admonished them not to be discouraged. Earth’s sorrows are meant to be stepping stones in the process of sanctification. Indeed, we “must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Glorying in affliction will turn our troubles into spiritual triumphs!

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