This past weekend, I watched a TV show called “Nova,” a popular science series. It was about inventions leading up to the smartphone. What stood out to me was that each story told of how the person who invented something did so because of a hardship or tragic event in his or her life. For example, it started with the story of Samuel Morse, a painter and amateur inventor, who was working in Washington DC, when his beloved wife, who was living in New England, died during childbirth. He received a letter three days after she died, and then had to travel for three days to get to her. By then, she was already buried. He started wondering if there was a way to send messages more quickly, so he developed a system of dots and dashes that could be sent using the telegraph. This idea grew out of his grief over the death of his wife.
Another invention that was featured on the show was that of spread spectrum technology. Hedy Lamarr, an Austrian-American film actress, was born into a Jewish family in 1914. She married a man who had close ties to Mussolini and Hitler. She decided to leave him, fleeing to the US. During WWII, she learned that the Allies were losing the war on the seas to the Nazis because their radio-controlled torpedoes were easily jammed, sending them off course. Working with the man who invented the player-piano, she developed a device that could create a frequency-hopping signal that could not be tracked or jammed. Although the US Navy didn’t use this new invention until years later, Lamarr worked to create a new navigation system because she wanted to find a way to protect the Jewish people and her homeland of Austria from the Nazis.
As I thought about how going through a time of need or even tragedy prompted these inventors to take the time to work toward a solution to their problem, I was reminded that this is the exact way that God uses difficulties in our own lives. When one becomes a Christian, this does not mean that life all of a sudden becomes easy. In fact, the Bible tells us to expect trials and suffering. A couple of verses reinforce this very idea, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3); “Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings” (I Peter 4); “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8).
When we go through difficult times, we are drawn to God as our source of strength. Just as Lamarr and Morse used their times of grief to want to find an answer, so we, too, can use our times of struggle to look to God for answers. He has promised us that “for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8). God has a purpose for everything that happens during our lives. He uses trials to teach us patience, so that we will become more and more like Him.
I’m sure glad that He is in control and that He knows exactly what I need, when I need it. This weekend, I encourage you to think about what God might be trying to teach you, whether you are going through a difficult time or a time of relative peace. Remember, God is working in us “to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2).
Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon Brobst, Ed.D.