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On August 5, a mine in Chile, South America, caved in, and 33 men were trapped a half mile beneath the earth’s surface. Miraculously, 17 days later all were discovered alive and unharmed.

Early estimates are that it will take nearly four months to drill a hole big enough to pull all the men back to safety with their families. Meanwhile, the trapped miners must cope with the unexpected and confining situation that has altered their lives.

Mario Gomez, 62 years old, the oldest of the group, has carved out a small subterranean chapel and is assisting the psychologists who are working to help the miners cope with isolation. No one could be better equipped to aid in such a situation—more than three decades ago, Mario survived 11 days as a stowaway on a ship. He lived below deck on little more than bits of chocolate and drops of water collected in a shoe; it was an ordeal so trying that it brought him closer to God.

It is so like the Lord to divinely position us in situations—often unhappy surprises to us—that allow His grace to shine through our lives. We may be scrambling to cope with the complications of the moment, while the Lord is orchestrating a unique opportunity for ministry. I’m quite sure that Paul and Silas didn’t grasp the intricacies of God’s plan when they were hauled to prison. But God used their “unexpected” calamity as an opportunity to bring salvation to a jailer and his entire family.

A recent Pew Research Center poll suggests that interest in Christianity is waning in the Western world, but I am convinced the Lord has divinely positioned The Foursquare Church to be beacons of His grace at a time when crises and difficulties abound.

Winston Churchill, the prime minister of England during World War II, had discovered the art of looking for meaning and purpose in the midst of difficulties. During some of the worst bombing of the war, and with England and its allies facing potential defeat, he declared to the House of Commons: “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’ “

When you find yourself in a less than desirable situation, dare to believe that the Lord of the universe has allowed you to be there for a reason. Jeremiah said: “I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23, NIV).

This next season for our church, with new challenges in front of us, may provide our greatest opportunity to bring hope to the hopeless, freedom to those who are bound, light to those walking in darkness, and salvation to those who are lost in their sin. Let’s believe together for God’s purposes to be accomplished and open our spiritual eyes and ears to His plans for us.

By: Glenn Burris Jr., president-elect of The Foursquare Church

is a freelance writer and editor. She lives in Orlando, Fla.