Friends, this morning I want to share a powerful story about pressure, tension and apparent suffering. However, it turns out to be a story about so much more in the end. Martin Ralph DeHaan, most famous for being the editor of the monthly devotional guide, Our Daily Bread, tells the story of a simple piece of wood in the master’s hand. A little piece of ebony wood once complained bitterly because its owner kept whittling away at it, cutting it, and filling it with holes, but the one who was cutting it so remorselessly paid no attention to its complaining. He was making a flute out of that piece of ebony, and he was too wise to desist from doing so, even though the wood complained bitterly. He seemed to say, “Little piece of wood, without these holes, and all this cutting, you would be a black stick forever—just a piece of ebony. What I am doing now may make you think that I am destroying you, but, instead, I will change you into a flute, and your sweet music will charm the souls of men and comfort many a sorrowing heart. My cutting you is the making of you, for only thus can you be a blessing in the world.” Let us remember today that God’s plan is never lost within the process or situations we find ourselves. As we are reminded in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, we might be pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down, but God’s promise to us is that we WILL NOT BE crushed, in despair, abandoned, or destroyed. Stay Close to Jesus!