I really was looking forward to attending church (on-line) this week, but when Sunday morning arrived my heart wasn’t in it. My mind was filled sadness, and my heart kept trying to creep silently toward despair. I was grumpy about the sermon topic (“reviewing events of the past year?” really? do we have to?) and wondering whether I really wanted to renew my recurring on-line offering, or whether maybe I ought to be looking for a different church instead.

But somehow, amidst all that noise and distraction, God managed to speak to me through the sermon anyway. I only half-listened to the preacher on Sunday, but as the week went by his words kept growing on me until I realized it had been exactly the sermon I needed to hear that day, and God was going to make sure I didn’t blow it off.

The point of the sermon was that God does His deepest and most intimate work within us during times of darkness and tribulation. This is when He is working most intimately within us, shaping the deepest parts of us to prepare us for the work He has planned for us. We don’t grow stronger or better equipped when life is good and all is well. We grow stronger and closer to Him and develop the skills He needs us to have by learning to trust Him to light our way in times of greatest darkness.

I did need to hear that.

It’s amazing the way that God is always there making sure we are learning from the situations He presents to us. It reminds me of those computer games where a creature suddenly appears on your avatar’s shoulder, or you stumble over an object that appeared out of nowhere, and suddenly you’ve uncovered a giant clue that points the way out of your current mess.

God works that way in real life.

Thank you Preacher, I needed that sermon this week, more than you will ever know.

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