It has been a rough year for many reasons—a deployed brother-in-law, health scare, loved ones in major crisis, abandoned and betrayed by friends, falsely accused, infertile, financial trouble, broken dreams, living one month apart from my husband while he labors 12-14 hour grueling days 7 days/week out of state, etc. I often hear people say “everything happens for a reason”. That in itself is not a comforting thought to me. Who cares if my suffering is for any old reason? What would make it all worth it? On the other hand, I find great comfort in this:
Romans 8:18-30 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
From this passage I get the following:
1) There is hope! This life is not all that there is. There is something worthwhile that cannot even compare to suffering in this life.
2) God is in control. God is the one who subjected creation to futility (and me to suffering), all with a plan! God’s plan is glorious redemption! Nothing in life is out of His control and none of it is a surprise to Him. All of it is part of His plan.
3) Just as the pain of childbirth produces the joy of a new priceless life, suffering produces something glorious—fullness of relationship with God and freedom and redemption from corruption and from our fallen bodies (the frailties of our bodies, our inclinations toward sin, the effects of being sinned against, and the effects of living in a fallen world). The pain now pales in comparison to the joy that is to come
4) God does not leave us to suffer alone. Through the Holy Spirit, He walks with us and equips us! We have the firstfruits of the Spirit. We have a shadow of what is to come through the Spirit’s work that bears fruit in our lives. We have supernatural power to endure and persevere in the meantime. Even in our weakness, even when we don’t even know what to say, God the Spirit Himself is our advocate—He speaks for us! The Word of God is our guide, and Jesus is our perfect example of how to endure suffering.
5) ALL THINGS work together for the good of those who love God!! This means there is not one thing in my life or in this world that I must endure that is not for my own good or that is outside the hand of God! My suffering is not just for some abstract, impersonal, vague, purpose; it is for my good! My suffering is God’s best for me.
6) My good is linked to being conformed to the image of Jesus. All things, even my suffering, are tools to conform me into the image of Jesus. Being conformed to Jesus is true freedom!
7) I get to belong to the family of God! God is my Father. Jesus is my brother, and He suffered more than I ever will. Although I am not fit to carry His sandal, He is working in me and on me to be like Him. He has made me part of His family.
8) God is in control from beginning to end. My suffering and circumstances are no surprise to God. He is the God who chose me, called me, justified me, and will bring me into glory with Him!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you that you are sovereign AND good. Thank you that those aren’t just spiritual sounding words, but they are true comfort in the midst of real suffering. You are our hope always, even when circumstances are bleak. Thank you for the portion you have chosen for me—even though that portion is painful and unbearable at times. Thank you that you do not leave me alone as an orphan, but you chose me to be part of your family despite my betrayal against you through my sin. Thank you that you redeem me from sin and cleanse me from unrighteousness. Thank you that Jesus death ransomed me from death to life. Thank you that you give me a perfect example in Jesus of how to live my life even as I walk through suffering, knowing I will never suffer as much as my Savior suffered in this lifetime and yet He did it perfectly. Thank you that I am not alone—you suffer with me and grieve with me. Thank you that the Holy Spirit gives me supernatural power to endure, persevere, and walk in righteousness! Thank you that you are completely in control as author and perfector. Thank you that you are in complete control from beginning to end. Nothing is too hard for you. Nothing happens apart from your will. Thank you that you are a Gracious Kind Loving God who works all things to my good. I don’t deserve it, but I praise you for your goodness. I praise you for hope! In Jesus’ Name, Amen
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