Blessings in Disguise

“Problems and trials . . are good for us.”  Romans 5:3 NLT.

Rejoice even when you have to look for a reason to do so.

My thoughts and comments today are about “blessings in disguise.”

Apparently, my Mom believed I always knew what was good and presumed I would consistently chose the good. I am assuming all that because, from my preteen years, I can still remember her frequent, and necessary, warning to me, “Allen, if you know what’s good for you, you won’t do that again.” When I failed to know what was “good for me,” by a practical process of elimination, both Mom and Dad assisted me to learn what wasn’t. But we are all a bit like that, confusing what’s good for us with what’s not.

The reality is that we really don’t always know what is good for us, or at least we live as though we don’t know. We make foolish choices too often. The obvious choice is seldom the right choice. By nature it seems, we are prone to self-indulgence. You may assume self-interest is a good thing, yet the Bible teaches that self-denial is the path to choose. “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23-25 NKJV. What’s good for you is this: follow Jesus fully, whatever sacrifice that requires.

Every one of us would prefer receiving, whether approval, applause, acclaim, recognition, or reward, but Jesus taught, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35 NIV. There is pleasure from what you receive, but that is comparatively brief; however, your satisfaction in what you give endures long after the gift. You might presume that what you give leaves you with less, but what you gives compounds itself to your benefit more than what you keep. “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV. What’s good for you is this: generosity is a wise investment in your own well-being. See Matthew 19:29 NKJV.

Any one of us would prefer a carefree life, without pressures or problems, as unlikely as that is to happen, but the Bible teaches that problems are not always a problem; sometimes, problems can be blessings in disguise. Not everyone sees past their disguise. I expect yours or my first question would likely be, “How do problems benefit us?” The Apostle Paul, no stranger to suffering, reflects on those blessings in disguise as a reason for our joy, ”We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us . .” Romans 5:3 NLT. See James 1:2-4 NIV. What’s good for you is this: rejoice even when you have to look for a reason to do so. See John 16:33 NIV.

Look closer at both the context and conclusion of Paul’s words to Christ-followers in Rome. “Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Romans 5:2 NLT. On that foundation, Paul adds a further, less likely but equally as important, cause for rejoicing, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us – they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us . .” Romans 5:3-5 NLT. Problems are no indication of God’s disfavor; problems are places where you discover God at His best.

My prayer for you today is that you not overlook any blessing, in whatever guise it comes.