When I was in Jr. high and High school, I remember hearing numerous sermons preached on The Parable of the Talents. (Click on the link to read from Matthew 25).
The parable challenges listeners to consider how they are using the “talents” the master has given them: Are you investing two fold, five fold, ten fold? or are you the wicked servant buries his master’s money in the dirt?
I remember fervently praying, searching my soul and heart’s desires: What were MY talents? Was I using what God had given me?
Many of my youth pastors and summer camp speakers transliterated “talent” (a sum of money) to the modern day English version of “talent”: a gifting, or natural ability. Clever, right?
Well, sort of. In my adolescent mind, I squished this parable neatly into the definition of “how am I using my gifting or natural abilities to serve the Lord?”
As a teen, I eagerly identified my talents as musical so I played the piano for the offering and sang specials during the service.
In college, I used my leadership abilities to become a prayer leader on my dorm.
As an adult, I have honed my creative writing skills and answered the “call” to write graphic novels to help end Human Trafficking in the USA.
I was (and am!) using my “talents” for the Lord, just like this parable says!
But this thought struck me this Sunday at church during the sermon: Am I really using ALL that the Lord has given me for his glory? Or am I burying the uncomfortable parts of my life in the ground, parts that are painful and messy?
Can my pain and suffering be used for his glory?**
Sometimes we think that God could never use pain and suffering like:
An eating disorder
An unplanned pregnancy
Filing for bankruptcy
A boring job
A car accident
Chronic health problems
Estranged family members
And so much more….
So often, my response to pain and suffering is to complain about it, wish my life was different, or “bury it” in the ground, wanting to forget it ever happened.
But God has shown me recently that, if I ask him, he will show me how he can using anything to serve him, if we are actively looking for the redemption of our suffering and pain.
What if we looked at everything we have been “given” in life as a way to bring glory to Lord?
We can “bury” these “talents” in the ground; or we can pray and seek and search and invest in life, and hope, and redemption, seeking to return two, five and tenfold to our Master when He comes, our ears longing for these words: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master”
**The unanswered question here is “Does God bring pain and suffering into our lives?” I don’t know. Perhaps. Perhaps not. The real question is, can I use what I have been “given” in my life for His glory?