For our light and monetary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs them all. II Corinthians 4:17
As much as we don’t like to experience pain, and as tough are our troubles may appear, every problem has a purpose.
In my most profound time of darkness, where everything concerning the plans I’d come up with for my future appeared bleak leading to depression for about a month, I started out on this journey to find my purpose. I strive to live a life modeling Jesus Christ at all times, but I wouldn’t have started this journey, or gotten to the point where I sacrificed everything that meant something to me in order to align my life in accordance to God’s purpose. My experience echoed the words of Paul in II Corinthians 1:9 “We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us, for he can even raise the dead.”
This is a hard topic for me to write on because I like to steer clear from the talk of “bad things happen for a reason,” but it’s true- regardless of how hurt or sad we feel, everything a child of God goes through was allowed by God, and if we stick with Him through the hard times, we will see the beautiful end. Everything that happens to us has a spiritual significance.
UNDERSTANDING ROMANS 8:28 – 29
To understand this very often misquoted scripture, we have to dissect the verse phrase by phrase.
“We know”: Our hope in difficult times is based on the truths that God is in complete control of the universe and that He loves us.
“that God causes”: Our life is not a result of random plans, God orchestrates everything. God cannot make a mistake – He is God!
“everything”: All that happens to us – mistakes, hurts, pains, joys, sins, debt, disasters, abortions, divorce, everything, God can and will if you let Him work, bring the good out of the evil. Just look at Calvary…
“to work together”: All our life events are interdependent parts of the process to make us like Christ. To make jollof rice, you need several ingredients, which are pretty distasteful to eat individually, but when skillfully put together, the taste is amazing! We need to yield all our unpleasant experiences to God, and He will bring beauty from our ashes.
“for the good”: the four women listed in the linage of Jesus were:
Tamar: seduced her father-in-law to get pregnant
Rahab: a prostitute
Ruth: a non-Jewish who broke the law by marrying a Jewish man
Bathsheba: committed adultery with David resulting in her husband’s murder.
These ladies had horrible reputations, but please read the bible to see how God turned their story around. God’s purpose > our sins.
“of those who love God and are called”: this promise is only for the children of God.
“according to His purpose”: which is…
“become like His son”: everything God allows to happen in our life is permitted for that purpose!
BUILDING A CHRIST-LIKE CHARACTER
Every problem is a character-building opportunity. The more difficult it is, the greater potential for building spiritual muscle and moral fiber. The things that happen outwardly in our lives are not nearly as important as the things that happen inside of us.
I Peter 1:7 tells us, “These troubles come to prove that your faith is pure. This purity of faith is worth more than gold, which can be proved to be pure by fire but will ruin. But the purity of your faith will bring you praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is shown to you. “
James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”
RESPONDING TO PROBLEMS AS JESUS WOULD
Remember that God’s plan for you is good: In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, “The plans I have for you are plans of good, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future.” Corriten Boom who suffered in the Nazi camp had this to say: “if you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. But if you look at Christ, you’ll rest!” Focusing on the end goal gives our life great meaning beyond our current pains. Be encouraged by Romans 8:17b “But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.”
Rejoice and give thanks: God doesn’t expect us to be thankful for all circumstances, but in all circumstances. He wants us to thank Him that He will use our problems to fulfil His purposes. In Luke 6:23, “Jesus encouraged us to be full of joy at that time (of great distress), because we have a great reward in heaven.”
Refuse to give up: James 1:4 encourages us to “let the process of testing go on until our endurance is fully developed, and we will find that we become people of mature characters, with no weak spots.” Character building is a slow process. I know this first-hand because I’m in a constant struggle to ‘rise above it’… I realize I have to pray more ‘conform me to your will prayers’ versus ‘comfort me and chill my nerves…’
For those who are currently facing troubles now, we need to learn not to ask ‘why me?’ but to ask, ‘what do you want me to learn Lord?’
Don’t give up! Let’s use what we’re going through to grow up!
Food for thought: What problem in my life has caused the greatest growth in me? Am I willing to allow my most painful experience be used to bring out something beautiful.