"Affliction will either warm you up toward spiritual things or turn you cold."
Joni Eareckson Tada
My grandfather was a scary man.
When I was a child, he would pinch my sister and me, pinch us hard, just to see what we'd do. He'd say terrible things to my mother. He'd get angry easily and go on verbal tirades, red-faced, spit flying. My mother has horrible stories from her childhood, stories of beatings and fleeing his anger. The first word that comes to mind when I think of my grandpa is evil.
After I became an adult I learned he came from a family with a rich Christian heritage. I heard him sing old Baptist hymns with passion and fervor. His grandparents even set money aside for him to attend seminary--my evil, abusive grandfather! What happened?!
My mom tells stories of sporadic church attendance as a child. When things were going well, they'd go to church, until something unexpected happened, like a hailstorm wiping out a crop. Then Grandpa would scream to the heavens and be mad at God for a while and they'd be out of church until he got over it.
His afflictions made him cold. He spent his life fighting God, trying to prove he didn't need a Savior, making himself miserable and angry.
He left a legacy of hurt when he should have left one of light.
He makes me realize I have a choice and so do you. I can let my afflictions make me bitter and angry and hurt everyone around me, or I can use them to bring me into the lap of Jesus. I've seen first hand how cold it can be to turn the other way, how destructive and life sucking bitterness is, how it affects generations. I won't do that do my family and I praise God my mother didn't either.
My grandfather led a tormented life, but he didn't have to. If he would have chosen to turn TOWARDS God in his troubles instead of away from Him, he could have had more peace. If he accepted the afflictions were not personal, were not a punishment, but meant to bring him closer to his Savior, his life would have been different. And so would have my mother's.
"Choose this day whom you will serve," Joshua said.
Which will you pick, a life of peace or one of torment?
"In this life you will have trouble," Jesus tells us.
Which way will your troubles take you?
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