Tag Archives: Nathan magnuson

Stuck In The Waiting

This is a guest post from a friend and I felt like it needed a second look today.

I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God.…
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.

T. S. Eliot, “East Coker”

I read these words in Philip Yancey’s book “Disappointment with God”. I was going through a brutal spell in my life. If you’ve read the book, maybe it helped. But it didn’t help me. In fact it just made me feel worse for all the people referenced in the book as well as for myself.

Why do bad things happen to generally decent people? I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I’ll ever understand this side of heaven. It might be better if I stopped asking. But there are few things that haven’t escaped me. Maybe they were rungs on the ladder that kept me hitting rock bottom. Here they are:

I’m not in control. Even if I was, I don’t know what’s best for me.

It’s true – and actually this struck me when things were going well. What do you do when the things that happened by “chance” turned out better than your carefully laid plans? This had been the case a couple different times and while I was overwhelmed with gratitude, it eerily bothered me. When my tides turned, I realized that it goes both ways. In the end, I’m not God. I don’t know what’s best for me, I can’t see the big picture of God’s plan for me and I can’t control all the outcomes in my life. Living by faith means accepting both the good and the bad and realizing both are temporal. Accepting the fact that life isn’t fair helps too.

Take responsibility. Don’t sabotage myself.

If you’ve ever wondered if your life could get any worse, let me clear that up for you real quick. The answer is always yes. That may sound like a morbid thing to say, but the truth is that we’re always one decision away from making things much worse. And when things aren’t going well, we’re in the DANGER ZONE. Think about it: if you’re stuck in a crummy job, you are only one decision away from not having a job at all. If your marriage is going poorly, you are only one decision or one conversation away from a further setback. If you aren’t married and wish you were, you are one or several decisions away from creating a lot more misery for yourself and others.

It’s tempting to say that “God wills” my circumstances to be what they are and then act like a victim. But actually we’re usually our own worst enemy. Proverbs 19:3 says, “People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord” (NLT). When the chips are down, the temptation is even stronger to make foolish choices that add to our pain.

We can’t always control our circumstances, but in every situation, we always have a choice of how to respond. And that means we have the responsibility to make a good choice, no matter how good or bad circumstances are.

Realize my pain will be able to be used in a positive way in the future.

If someone had said this to me when I was down, it would’ve brought me up real fast… swinging. That’s not what I wanted to hear. But unfortunately, not “just anyone” said these words. They came from Viktor Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, recounting his experiences as a Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz. They were also shared by psychologists to the survivors of the PanAm Flight 73 hijacking in 1986 as they prepared to board their next flight.

Those folks have “cred” in my book. I may not like the message, but I can take it coming from them. When I’m hurting, the last thing I want is “some perspective,” but even so, they’ve had far worse than me.

If you’re in pain, there is a sense in which you’re alone. Proverbs 14:10 says, “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy” (NLT). No one else can walk your path for you and you may not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know I couldn’t. When we’re stuck “in the waiting,” as Eliot’s poem says, we likely won’t be able to see the redemption in our circumstances. It’s only by faith that we can believe that this too shall pass.

Nathan Magnuson is a leadership consultant, coach and thought leader. Visit him today at NathanMagnuson.com or follow him on Twitter.

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Learning From Others

I want to start off today by saying thank you to my friends who wrote guest posts for me this week while I took some time to disconnect, relax and refresh. I hope you enjoyed reading their work. All of them have spent time in the darkest of valleys. Some of them wrote to you this week from the valley. They are in that place where they haven’t seen the sun from the side or top of a mountain in their lives for months. Yet they still cling to hope in the One who will guide them through.

I found inspiration in each of their works. Nathan pointed out that both good times and difficult times are temporary. When we are in a season of either, we tend to feel like they’ll last forever. We think either, “I don’t ever want to give up this mountain top experience” or “Will I ever see the sun again in my life?” We have to learn that a well balanced life means we’re going to have times of joy and pain in our lives. Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us, “To everything there is a time and a season for everything under heaven.”

Shelly then pointed out that the direct route is not always God’s route. He likes detours and He has a purpose for them. When I talk to young people, I let them know that it’s great to make plans for your life, but be prepared for detours. God may have called you to do something or to go to a certain place, but don’t expect His route to be the same as yours. You’ll still end up where He told you He’d take you, but He needs to take you through detours in order to get you ready for the future He’s planned for you. By the way, detours make the best stories!

Next Mike reminded me to be brave enough to give correction to others when needed and humble enough to accept it when I need it. I used to work with a lady who would say, “God only had one perfect son and you’re not it!” I laugh when I think about it, but thank God she had the courage to correct me when I needed it. I don’t like being the one giving it or receiving it, but I know that both are a necessary part of being a Christian. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Those clashes hurt and make a lot of noise, but in the end, we’re better for it.

Finally, my friend Bill reminded us that when we ask God, “Why me” in a trial, it reveals how we view Him. Either we think we don’t deserve it and that He should have given this burden to one of the other billions of people on the planet or that He has a purpose in our trials and wants us to learn something. We all eventually ask Him that question when the trial seems to have no end. The difference is our motive in asking it. Job even broke down and asked God with the wrong motive. Check out Job 38 to see God’s reply. It’s particularly convicting to me in the Message.

I hope that each of you gained new perspective from people that I follow and read. Take the time today to check out their other works as well as to say a prayer for them. Each of them could use a touch from God today in their situations. I’ve found that even when I’m going through the darkest of nights, someone else always has it worse than I do and it’s still my responsibility to lift others up in prayer even when I need it too. That said, I’ll be lifting you up in prayer today because God knows what you need better than I do.


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