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

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

June 13, 2017

“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)

Devotion Graphic

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.

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)

Bravery and confidence are built into our lives when we understand how Jesus sees us and how He feels about us. Lynn Cowell’s book, His Revolutionary Love, helps young women build a foundation of confidence on Christ’s love for them.

Join Lynn today on her blog for exciting news about her next book, written just for girls ages 8 to 12, Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You, releasing in August.

Even though we know God is with us, why are there times when we still feel scared? Our mind tells us we can’t do it before we even try. Lynn wants to share a FREE resource: “I Can Do It!” for you or your child. Stop by her blog for this free download.

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.

© 2017 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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  1. Like rain in a desert these words have fallen, thank you so much for your faithfulness in sharing this. May you be blessed as you bring blessing. Thank you x

  2. We parents so easily forget that when we shield our children from pain, we send them into the world weak and vulnerable. And that plays right into the enemy’s plan.

    “rain up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Prepare them well for the battle.

    • Shirlee – I definitely have done that in my life. Only with the power of the Holy Spirit can we be sensitive to His guidance and be the parent He empowers us to be!

  3. These words and this lesson really hit home for me. My daughter died giving birth to her second child 16 months ago due to childbirth complications. the most joyous time turned into my biggest heartbreak. Immediately afterward we received a call, we had to take custody of her newborn girl and 7 year old son. Then my heartbreak stayed but also came with joy. God can take our biggest heartache and turn it into our biggest joy. I didn’t know it at the time but my life’s little painful moments were preparing me for this. God knew I needed to stay strong through the battle. God will not send us into battle ill equipped.

  4. I loved this devetion and how it spoke to me. As a mother and a teacher I needed reminded to allow children to be disappoint and hurt. We don’t have to fix everything and if we try we are doing a disservice to our kids and their ability to grow. Going to keep this lesson close!!

  5. Theresa Mason says:

    I am grateful for this post today! Lynn showed that even though it was hard, she supported her daughter through success and failure with the same love and compassion. This is what kids/young adults need for deeper relationships, especially with God. Learning He is not a vending machine at a younger age saves so much heartache later in life. Thank you for this much needed reminder.

  6. Cheryl Dicken says:

    Praying this morning for my son who struggles, and is currently in a bad place, with heroin addiction. May God see him through this bad place to a place of healing, grace and redemption.

    Thank you. I needed this encouragement today.

    • Your in my prayers Cheryl. Be encouraged.

    • Cheryl – I often read testimonies of others who were in really bad places. I read them for the sheer reason of boosting my faith. Currently I am reading a book called “The Inklings”. It tells the story of C.S. Lewis and others. What a mess that man was! It has boosted my faith. Our God can do ANYTHING!

  7. Beautiful message! Thank you for the needed reminder.

  8. I’ve been a teacher for 15 years and this past year was very rough for me. In addition to my difficulties in the classroom, my mother was also diagnosed with cancer for the third time. Due to low numbers, a first year teacher at my school was about to lose her job. I decided to go on a personal leave, which gave her the opportunity to take over my class. During this time, my sister began her private medical practice and let me volunteer in her office. My mom also spent time in the office with us assisting with paperwork, phone calls, etc. The three of us were able to work along side each other for over 4 months. We had lunch together, laughed together, and supported each other through our difficult times. We lost our mother 3 weeks ago. Leaving the classroom was a very rough decision for me. But, if it were not for me having the toughest teaching year ever, I would never have had the chance to spend so much time with my mom before she passed away. My faith in God and my relationship with my mommy grew even more than before. My dad reminded us last week that “When we get through this, we will look back and thank God for the things he has taught us.” I miss her so much, but rest knowing that she’s received her crown in her eternal home.

    • Cindy b says:

      Kay- I am so sorry for your loss. At the same time I am happy you had the freedom to spend precious moments with your mom and sister over the past year. They are priceless. It amazes me how God works and how he provides silver linings.

    • Kay – this is beautiful and painful all together. Isn’t that so often how life is?

      My father passed away years ago and I know, like you experienced, whatever we have to give up to get that time with them is all so very worth it!

  9. One of the hardest things turned to the greatest blessing was caring for my mother the last year of her life. My two sisters and I spent every day together. We laughed, we cried, we did chores. We fed, bathed and loved on our Mom. It was precious. When she went home to be with the Lord ,my sister’s and I got to prepare (wash) her body for burial. It was a sacred precious time. As I look back on that year it was the hardest sweetest time. God gave me a huge blessing and I’m forever grateful.

  10. Thank you, Lynn, for that reminder. For the past year I’ve been dealing with progressing pain that has worsened to the point of wearing a pain patch and taking narcotics. God has helped me get off the pill narcotic, but I’m still wearing the patch and still have some pain. Through this God has even given me a specific job to do in the church. As difficult as it has been, God has been so very faithful in His presence and His care. He’s an amazing God. And I’m growing stronger and closer to Him because of this hard time. Thanks be to God.

  11. emaju peter says:

    Thank you today,s sharing, I have been blessed and encouraged for over thirty years now ,we have been praying and wondering why our son,s situation seems not to be changing. We now realise that God has purpose for it and all things work for our good . God bless you.

  12. Cindy b says:

    Lynn- this spoke to me. Earlier this week God’s message was “be still”. Today’s message reinforced that I need to “be still” to allow my daughters to learn and grow. Sprinkled with lots of love, hugs, and prayers of course!

  13. My son is struggling to find a good job since graduating college. I would covet your prayers for him that the interviewers would find favor and he would get the job God prepares for him.

  14. Jennifer Pigg says:

    My mother fell in August of 2016 and had to move in with me and for the next seven months she recouped via PT and OT. There were some good times and not so good times. At the time the only answer was for her to move in with me. She was released from the doctor to live by herself and drive so… she moved out the first of June.
    Growing up my mother and father worked outside the home and my great grandmother lived with us and took care of me during the day. I have never been close to my mom. During my childhood I was taken care of materially but emotionally starved-not on purpose I think that is just the way it was.
    It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in having mom move in with me.
    I left like my home wasn’t mine anymore, but when I think back my brick and mortar home is a gift from God and before we moved in, I felt God had given us the home for his purpose. I kept thinking of a having a BS but that never happened. Not that God caused mom to fall but he did use my home for his purposes.
    Now it seems weird that mom is gone but she needs to be independent again.

  15. Mary Jo says:

    I learned forgiveness is an ongoing gift. It Can begin as an action and move forward to the emotions. A challenging marriage has brought me closer to Jesus . I rely on him and his word to maintain joy in my life.

  16. This devotional spoke to me like no other I have read. It contains two of my favorite scriptures that I have repeated and prayed on over the last six months as I battle medical issues: Psalm 23:4 and Joshua 1:9. Thank you, Lynn, I truly needed to read this today. GOD bless!

  17. I just posted on my blog last week about God’s goodness during a trial in my families’ life three years ago. We endured a flood and I still remember clearly my son, Thomas, waking up at our friend ‘s house who had picked us up from a shelter and taken us into their home. Thomas awoke with a HUGE smile and said “I’m glad we are here”. He felt the rescue and felt the goodness surrounding us. That smile gets me through a lot.

  18. I almost filled in the blank in the prayer with “help me to know what the future holds formy relationship with Jeff.” But then I remembered, that’s what caused our struggles in thefirst place, me wanting to know the future for the relationship. So I changed my words to “help me to trust abbr take one day at a time in this relationship.”

  19. God is so good. He has worked in my life through a horrible situation. I have an estranged adult son and I truly thought it would kill me. I haven’t had contact with him or his wife or my granddaughters for a couple of years now. I have no answers why this happened and looks like I never will. But through all the pain and heartbreak God has held he up! He has worked in my life in so many ways. I could have been angry and ugly, but something (the Holy Spirit) has told me to pray and to wait. So everyday I pray and I wait. In the meantime I have have been able to praise Him for all the blessings in my life that I do have. He will answer my prayer in time, His time, not mine. Do I miss the kids, you bet I do all the time. I want them back in my life! But I believe God is using the situation for good. I know my unbelieving friends are watching how I handle this and at first it wasn’t so good, then I told everyone I was giving it to God because He has control. Yes, some find it stupid, some find it as me being weak. But I am at peace knowing God loves me and wants the best for me. It took a boatload of tears and hours and hours of prayer to get there. But I am Gods child and He is in control. I pray constantly for the situation to change but I am trying to wait and trust. It’s not easy, In fact it is the most difficult thing I have ever had to go through and don’t wish it on anyone.

    • Valerie says:

      I understand so well how hard it is to pray and wait. I have a similar situation with my mom and my sister. My mom moved in with my sister a little over a year ago and both have completely turned their backs on me and will not communicate with me. I am utterly baffled and heartbroken. My mom will be 92 this year. She has so little time left and I can’t bear the thought of our lives ending this way. But there is nothing I can do. I was encouraged by your post. The Lord gets us through the most painful times of our lives. I too have felt the Lord telling me to do nothing. To just let go of trying to change things. Doing nothing is sometimes excruciating. Thank you for the reminder to focus on the many acts of kindness He shows me and not what I consider the unanswered prayer.

  20. Such a great reminder! Lord, help me be courageous!

  21. My daughter is an adult, but she suffers daily from MDS – a blood disorder/cancer, and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done to watch her suffer. I just wish I could take it all away and make her 100% better. Even though she suffers, she still continues to get up everyday and do what she needs to do. She lives with me, so I’m her caregiver and it wears on me daily to watch this happening. I have to constantly ask God for help and lean on Him. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be of much help to her, I’m sure.

  22. Susan G. says:

    Thank you for these words of courage and wisdom. His Word is what I fix my heart and mind on as I go through a very difficult time of loss upon loss.
    I am confident God will work everything out for my good and His Glory…and I too am learning much…
    Bless you as you encourage others!

  23. Danielle says:

    The trials are promised and necessary in this life! But HE overcame the world, so we shouldn’t be fearful knowing HE is with us in everything we go through! Thanks for sharing! God bless you sweet girl!

  24. We have been going thru a trial for the last 3 months. My husband was let go from his job of 29 years, they gave us nothing, just see ya! We are a Christian family, my husband and I have been struggling with why, not why he lost his job but why is he still unemployed. He is a very loyal, hard working and qualified man. Why are we still here, we pray together, fast together and cry out to our god. We know He can, but when and will he take us out of this darkness. I’m afraid and feel so alone. We both have asked for his spirit to be apon us please pray for us.

    • Praying for you through this difficult time. There’s a song by Mercy Me called “Even If” that comes to mind. Jesus is our hope even if our trials remain. Here are some of the lyrics.
      I know You’re able and I know You can
      Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
      But even if You don’t
      My hope is You alone
      I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
      Would all go away if You’d just say the word
      But even if You don’t
      My hope is You alone.
      God bless, know that He never leaves you nor forsakes you.

    • Keep searching​ for a verse to give you Hope, my was, Proverbs 3:5-7,I have felt your pain, first time we lived in apartment, now, I see it was a blessing! When your going trough I held on to Jesus. The blessings were onimoius money was sent to us, our landlord said we can pay 3months later, and we were able to live on $600. Our boys were little, the send time we made sure we had a savings and we owned a house, took my husband four months, my husband looked everyday 10-3pm for a job, had many interviews, the crazy thing is he got the job he first applied to, but took four months to call my husband, what a trying​ time, keep encouraging your husband, proud of him, God had his back, pray together! This helped grow us closer. Will pray your husband gets a job quickly!

  25. Janice Alston says:

    Powerful reading I really enjoyed this story, full of f lifes greatest moments

  26. Lynn,
    I read this devotion this morning and knew God was speaking about my situation. Then, I got a text late tonight from my daughter who in summer school at college and I had to come back to read this again. I needed to read the Word of God to quiet my soul. My daughter has ADD, a learning disability and anxiety disorder. She finished her first year of college but needed to take a class this summer. With her anxiety, I was hesitant especially after the stress of her first year.. She also has a job so balancing would be difficult. Tomorrow is the last day of class so she must take the final. She has texted to say “I’m so tired , I’m dizzy, and I can’t focus on anything. I don’t want to give up but I have never felt like this before” She has had panic attacks and physical ailments all due to this class. My prayer has been “Lord just get her through this”. She works SO hard with her learning challenges and the anxiety doesn’t help. We have been dealing with this since 2nd grade but since going to college I have felt so burdened by it all. I so want to “fix” this. I so want God to enable her to think and process information like everyone else so she doesn’t have to study so long. I so want Him to remove the anxiety and give her confidence and peace. It breaks my heart to get the texts. All I can do is send her scripture to encourage her but truth be told, everything I tell her, I need to tell myself. Please pray for her as she takes the final exam tomorrow and pray for me that I can be a mom who walks through the difficult situations with her and can see them as “good”.

    • Hi Lisa!

      I saw your comment and it stood out to me. I have been out of college for almost a year and my mom did the same for me. I had panic attacks and sometimes felt like I could not go on. I had a painful breakup/heartbreak one summer where I was taking 14 hours of summer school. My throat would actually swell due to anxiety. We look back on it now and my mom says, “That’s all I could do was send you scripture and encourage you.” And she was right. That was all she could do. I had to go through it to learn through it. IT WAS SO HARD. Now, I am a special education teacher. The load I take on now…I always remember that summer when I took 14 hours of college classes and I remember how much it taught me. Everything I do now, I think I did way harder stuff in college. It always helps me.

      • Katie,
        Thank you so much for taking time to read my post and then replying so honestly thank you for sharing the journey that you went through in college I know too that God is doing something in my daughter preparing her for something and I know he is doing a work in me as well. Im so thankful how God weaves people into our lives to speak truth and to give encouragement so May God-bless you for what you did in how you spoke out to me. it has blessed me tremendously !!

  27. I have been dealing with anxiety and depression and fighting hard to overcome it. It hit me out of nowhere and has been the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with. But through this bad thing, I have become so much closer to God and learning to be brave..which is a good thing! The “You make me brave” song has been my ‘theme’.. this was very refreshing to read.

    Thank you.

  28. I love this. I look back on things in life that I hated and did not understand. God has proved his faithfulness every time. So, in saying that, I know he will prove it again. He prove Himself to be faithful. This time will go by as we are patient in His timing. Even when bad circumstances are surrounding us, God always turns it to good for us.

    Romans 8:28
    “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good.”

    This is hard to believe sometimes, but that doesn’t matter because it is TRUE.

  29. Hi Lisa,

    Your devotional was yet another divine appointment in our journey to share God’s “realness”. Our family has been on quite a journey this past year, but God has been with us every step of the way. You could not have said it better…”Difficult times are opportunities to be brave.” Thank you!

  30. …I meant Lynn…sorry! : )

  31. The Lord speak to us. We need to stop, stand still and find a quite place, The Lord is speaking to us. Give the Lord so time in the day or night. Give the Lord your prayers. AMEN

  32. kay abel says:

    Lovely truth. Just don’t let the hard things make you hard. Shalom

  33. Day 9 at children’s hospital, watching my four year old grandson battle Ecoli. He’s suffered a complication called HUS which has caused his kidneys to shut down. He is now on temporary dialysis to give them a rest, and hopefully they will kick back in soon! He’s in a lot of pain and just wants to go home. It’s breaking our hearts to watch him suffer. Please pray for relief from the pain. Pray for healing. Pray for comfort from his Heavenly Father.
    I needed this devotion this morning as I’m feeling God is not hearing our desperate cries for help, (although I know those feelings are NOT truth!).
    I know He is at work doing what only God can do, and in that truth I find rest!

  34. janny holder says:

    I wanted you to know that this devotional meant a great deal to me . with so many things not going my way it give me relief to know that I should be ok. I thank you father God for speaking to my heart and allowing me to experience failure and helping me get back up again.

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