I really love stories and have a profound appreciation for storytellers - people who have the gift of narration. My Mom, Grammy, and Uncle Mark have this gift and the uncanny ability to do all the voices in stories. When I say "voices" I mean they can do the accents as good if not better than anyone on Audible. When I was a little girl, one of my favorite storybooks was about a trickster rabbit and his arch enemies a simple-minded bear and wily fox. My Mom and Grammy could do those long, Southern drawls so well there was almost no difference between their narration and the Disney record of the same name. I guess this is one reason I love the Bible so much;
Jesus is the Master storyteller.
One famous story in the chronicles of these animals involves rabbit trying to escape after being caught in a trap. He pleads with the fox crying that they can do whatever they want to him, but please, please don't throw him in the briar patch. Anywhere but there. So of course, the wise-in-his-own-eyes fox and dim-witted bear reason that if rabbit hates that briar patch so much, then that is exactly where they will send him. So fox flings rabbit with all his might into the gloomy-looking briar patch and he lands with a thud. They hear him woop and wail and fox and bear think he is finally gone for good. But up pops a jubilant rabbit hopping through the thorns singing out "*I was BORN and BRED in the BRIAR patch!"
Recently, one of my children had a very traumatic event in which two masked men with guns, dragged her out of bed, tied her up, and robbed her. Really. They took thousands of dollars worth of her belongings, including her car. It was terrible but we praise God they did not hurt her other than where they tied her hands. As they were tying her up, she said "You better not touch me. I have God on my side and He'd hurt you more than you would hurt me." They laughed but didn't touch her. The Holy Spirit said through James; "Consider it pure joy my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds because the testing of your faith produces perseverance," We should have no problem being thrown into adverse circumstances because these tribulations become an opportunity for the miraculous. I know this is easier said than done and we have our whole life to practice being flung into all kinds of thorns and thickets.
In Daniel Chapter 3, Nebuchadnezzar is having a moment and demands that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego be thrown into a furnace for not bowing down and showing honor to his image. They responded;
"O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18
Many of us know the rest of the story: The furnace is heated seven times hotter than normal, bystanders are incinerated, the three Hebrew men are thrown fully-clothed into the furnace and a great miracle happens. The king sees that not only are they not harmed by the fire but there is a fourth person in there with them - one like the "Son of God". This amazing event which was meant to punish the Hebrews for not worshipping the image of the king ends with a decree that the Hebrew God is the one true God and Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego are promoted. What the enemy meant for evil, God turned for good.
This is the way of the Kingdom. God turns what the devil means to destroy us to become our miraculous testimony. My daughter was able to find a new apartment and was released from her old one with no penalties. She is able to have her good 'ol dog living with her with no fees, received plenty of money from insurance to replace all of the stolen items, and got double the amount of money her car was worth so she could get a nearly new car. The most important part: She forgave in her heart the men who robbed her. This is the caveat to the promise: God WILL turn what was meant to hurt and destroy us IF we allow Him. If we don't give in to unbelief and bitterness. All of the bad circumstances that happen to us present us with a response: Will we respond in the Kingdom way and allow the Lord to turn the situation around or will we give in to fear, doubt, and unforgiveness?
Jesus reminded us, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you[f]will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 Foxes and bears are everywhere trying to entrap us because they know their time is short. All of us will have a briar patch moment when we are flung headfirst into the fire and the thorns with the enemy looking on to see what will happen. At that time, may we trust our dear Lord's promises, and through the Holy Spirit sing out with all our hearts "Greater is He that is within me than he that is in this world! I am an overcomer and what the enemy means for evil, my God will turn to good! I was born and bred in the briar patch!" Da te da da te da...
"For you shall go out with joy and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of the briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord's renown, for an everlasting sign that will endure forever." Isaiah 55:13
*Uncle Remus Stories From Walt Disney's Collection - 1946 - Original work authored by Joel Chandler Harris.