“When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”
–John 15:10-11 (NLT)

Have you ever experienced something difficult which opened doors for you later? In 2008 my journey through college hit a big roadblock. I fulfilled the requirements for a degree in music therapy, but in order to fully graduate, I would have to pass an internship. After attending a few interviews, I was accepted as an intern at a school for the blind in Maryland. Thanks to my grandpa and my mom, I got to visit an out-of-town music store and buy some high-quality instruments. My mom and stepfather traveled with me to Baltimore and helped me get settled at the school. I was rather nervous about this new opportunity and how I would perform, but I was also excited to work with blind children and test the music-therapy waters.

During the next two months, I got many chances to lead therapy sessions in front of small groups of kids. I enjoyed working with them, but I gradually started feeling less sure of myself. My supervisor sometimes disapproved of activities I had planned, and she generally put a lot of pressure on me. I also had to fill out a lot of paperwork which proved that my manner of therapy was helping the children. After a while, I got the feeling that my supervisor was breathing down my neck.

In the end, this pressure and my own growing nervousness affected my performance on the job. In January 2008, my supervisor decided to dismiss me from the internship. I spent the rest of my time at the school as her assistant.

Because of my dismissal, I went through a long period of disappointment and depression. I had done all that college work for nothing, and I had let down my parents, who had contributed so much money and time to my internship. For several months, I felt like I was stuck in a dark hole, and I was sure I would never recover from this difficult detour in my life.

But gradually, as time went on, God helped me to get through that situation. I went back to college a few months later to get a general music degree, and I went through counseling for a short time to overcome my depression.

During the years since then, I’ve been using God’s gift of music in many new ways. I now play piano at the local hospital on Thursdays, and my husband Timothy and I visit several nursing homes each month, bringing music and a little comedy to the residents. Music therapy didn’t work out for me, but I’m still using music to brighten people’s lives. God has really helped me to move on from my Baltimore experience.

Jesus also helped people move away from impossible and difficult experiences. His first miracle involved changing water into wine at a large wedding. By doing this, he accomplished three things.
First, Jesus performed an act of creation. In Genesis, God created the heavens, the Earth and all living things out of nothing. Similarly, Jesus turned ordinary water into wonderful wine.

Second, Jesus showed his endorsement of both marriage and family through his first miracle. If the supply of wine at a wedding feast ran out, it brought shame to those who had supplied the feast. Jesus wanted to keep this great family-filled celebration going, so he created the wine. Through this action, he showed his approval of marriage, and he also sanctioned the establishment of a family unit.

Most importantly, Jesus’ first miracle was all about bringing joy to others. The usual custom at a wedding feast was providing the best wine first, so everyone would enjoy the first few drinks. Then, as people gradually succumbed to the effects of the finest wine, the second-best wine was poured. Instead of following this custom, Jesus created what was probably the finest wine known to man and provided it at the end of the feast.

By performing his first miracle, Jesus showed that he had come to bring the joy of forgiveness of sins to everyone on earth. In our opening scripture, Christ promises to bring us joy on Earth and in heaven if we obey God’s commandments and continue to trust in Him. Just as God helped me through my music therapy experience years ago, He will help you overcome your own dark times if you choose to follow him.

Has God used a bad experience in your life to create something wonderful? If not, I challenge you to put your faith and your trust in Christ, so that He can turn dark times into joyful times.

Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 377 E. Chapman Ave., Suite 260, Placentia, CA 92870. Finally, check out our online store at www.amway.com/burdicksbargains. In order to support us, please register for free on our store website before purchasing anything. Thank you!

If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 641-715-3900, ext. 874157.