I attended a handful of writer’s conferences in the past two years hoping to improve my writing skills. Don Miller presented a unique workshop in his Storyline Conference last year when he had us trace the negative and positive “turns” of our life. Don illustrated using the life of Joseph as an example starting with his brothers throwing him into a well and progressing through a prison sentence. Yet, even with all this adversity, he becomes second in command in Egypt and is blessed by his father Jacob.

Don was insistent that retracing the highs and lows of our own life helps us to identify those moments that were like a doorway that we stepped through and could never return to our past. The exercise closed with us examining our “negative” turns to find if there were any positive outcomes. Psychologist Viktor Frankl termed this “redemptive explanations” for our suffering.

I left the workshop last year content that I had worked through most of the unpleasant events of my life and had found “redemptive explanations.”

It was in Sunday School this week that Rev. Leigh Spruill shared a different perspective when he asked, “Instead of looking at events in our life as either positive or negative, what if we acknowledged that they are all preparing us for our ministry to serve others?”

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I looked at the backstory I’d created for Don’s conference and Leigh was right: everything I’ve experienced up to now has prepared me to serve others. I can describe the joys of God’s kingdom so that others can see them, too, but I can also empathize with those who have cancer, been divorced, or lost a loved one. I am comforted when a friend reaches out with compassion for my adversities, but I find a deeper understanding when they have experienced the same sorrow somewhere along the way.

Would your perspective on life be different if you looked at every experience, positive and negative, as preparation to do God’s work?

My perspective has already changed.



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