Discover His heart: God uses our difficult experiences to touch the hearts of others
When we receive salvation and follow the Lord, we make a decisive break from the old way of life, the old way of doing things. We become new creatures, yet we bring along with us memories from our experiences in life to date. God is faithful to help us move past the difficult moments we’ve experienced so that we can look forward to better days ahead, but He doesn’t always remove all painful memories and feelings. He has a purpose in this. Paul is a great example of how our past experiences can serve God’s greater purpose for our lives.
@ Acts 9
“Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.” (1-2) When we think about hateful leaders and individuals throughout history who murdered Christians for their faith, we might as well throw Saul into the mix because he was one of them. Talk about painful memories and feelings.
Better than just about anyone, Paul understood the hearts of those who were blinded to the truth about Jesus. Highly educated and qualified, Paul made his appeal for Christ to the Jewish leaders, to government leaders and to Jews and Gentiles alike. He understood their hatred, their confusion and their doubt because he had lived it.
Just as the scales fell off of Paul’s blinded eyes after his glorious conversion, we read throughout Acts how he was so very capable in opening the blind eyes of others to see their need for salvation. “Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.” (22)
Paul remembered enough of his painful past to make this statement to Timothy, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.”(I Timothy 1:15-16) God used Paul’s hateful past to serve a higher purpose of which we, too, are the recipients today through his written words.
Remembering our difficult experiences in the past makes us more sensitive to others who are walking through similar trials. We understand their fears, their broken hearts and sometimes even their anger at God and everyone. Like Paul in his day, we are able to help them and convince them to believe in God. “[God] comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (2 Corinthians 1:4)
We can fulfill His greater purpose to touch others who walk where we have walked only through opening our hearts and eyes to see their need of Him. Our understanding of this walk and our victory through Christ challenge us to share with them that “they, too, can believe in Him and receive eternal life.”
Moving Forward: My prayer today is that God will open my eyes to see those whose pain I, too, have felt so that I may lead them to Him.
Tomorrow @ James 4-5