GOD WILL USE THIS FOR MY GOOD.
As I’ve thought through this specific point over the past month, I’ve often caught myself saying, “I’d rather not go through this in order to become better.” But to be honest, I believe my theology has been wrong when it comes to this point (all you seminarians out there feel free to correct me, but this is what I’m holding on to!). I used to believe that God makes you go through hard things in order to make you stronger, but you know what, I really don’t believe that anymore.
I think we live in a broken, sinful, horrible, wicked world…and sometimes, bad things happen that grieve His heart just as much as they grieve ours. I don’t think God wants for us to suffer. I don’t think He gives us cancer, and tragic death, and loss of children, and miscarriage, and persecution, and all those other horrible things JUST to make us better.
I have to believe that those are NOT from God, but rather, are from the enemy who wants nothing more than to STEAL, KILL and DESTROY. When we blame God for all these horrible things, we can start to grow bitter and resent Him. God hates our suffering and the sin in this world just as much as we do.
I don’t believe these things are FROM God…but I DO think that these things can be used FOR good.
You see, when we do suffer, He wants us to know that no matter what this life brings: He has the POWER and the PROMISE of using it for our good (Romans 8:28). He promises to take all the ugly, evil, sad things of this world and somehow orchestrate them in a way that will benefit us and His kingdom in the very end. He will use this for my good. And He’ll use it for your good as well. God is not the AUTHOR of evil, but he can take it and weave it into a story that is better than we could have ever asked or imagined. For the believer in Christ He PROMISES that He can and HE WILL use it for our good. You can absolutely, certainly, without a shadow of a doubt bank on that.
GOD HAS GIVEN ME MY PORTION.
If you’re anything like me, when you’re going through a hard time, you often wake up hoping that it was all a bad dream. Then you climb out of bed, and realize that THIS is your reality. Those can be very hard moments, can’t they?
A few weeks ago I actually had a legitimately horrible dream…no, it was a full on nightmare. It felt so real, and so when I woke up I was left with all the details in my mind and the stomach-sinking emotions still left in the pit of my stomach. It actually took me a few hours to shake those feelings, but when I finally did I felt the Lord saying to me, “This could be your reality, but it isn’t. Be grateful for that.”
You know, as hard as my reality is right now, that dream reminded me that my reality could be EVEN harder. Turn on the news on any given day and you’ll hear stories of Christians being persecuted and beheaded all around the globe for the sake of Christ. Mothers being killed in front of their children, husbands being burned at the stake in front of their wives. There are wars, famine and straight up EVIL all across our globe, and often times it’s helpful for us to have some perspective when we’re walking through our own hard times.
I don’t believe simply thinking about these horrible things makes our situation any less painful, but what it does is offer us a chance to give gratitude in the face of our own really hard things. It’s a chance to see someone else’s story, and step out of ours for just a moment, raising our hands to heaven in thankfulness for the fact that God knows our portion, and He will help us carry it right here, and right now. Don’t try to think ahead, you can’t carry the worries of tomorrow on your shoulders. But what you can do is simply focus on today. On this hour. On this moment, asking God for the strength and grace you need one moment at a time.
REMEMBER, THIS IS NOT THE END OF THE STORY.
When you’re walking through hard times, it certainly feels like the end of the story. Sometimes the clouds seem so thick that it’s hard to see past the current darkness. But from what I know of God’s word, He promises that THIS is not the end of our story. Our story is so much grander, so much greater and so much better than we could even imagine from our limited vantage point. I love this phrase because it reminds me of that truth:
Our God is not a God of sad endings. Even when life throws sad chapters our way, we have a guarantee in Christ that the end of our story will be better than ALL the other chapters. Because in the end, He has the victory! Over death, over darkness, over suffering, over injustice, over evil. In the end, we are on the winning side! For the believer in Christ, the REST of life is truly the BEST of life. This world we live in is such a small, faint moment in the scheme of eternity, and the word of God reminds us that even the HARDEST times are “light and momentary” compared to the glory that is up ahead. I cling to that hope. I cling to that promise. I cling to that reminder that this life is fleeting…and the only thing that matters here on earth is becoming more like my Lord, no matter what challenges come my way.
But even so, we still pray as we walk through this current chapter one step at a time. We still wait. We still hope. We still ask God to bring us a little bit of heaven here on earth. That His will would be done on EARTH as it is in Heaven. For healing. For hope. For justice. For restoration. For forgiveness. For love. For all that is good, and holy. For a glimpse of the eternal, in our present time of trouble. We continue to pray and believe in its power. I know that you are praying for me, but I want you to know, that I am also committing to praying for you. No matter what it is we face, we’re all in this journey together, and we need each other.
If you feel comfortable, consider sharing all or part of your story in the comment section below, and I, as well as thousands of believers across the country and world, promise to commit to pray for you as well. And may the GOD of hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may OVERFLOW with hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.