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Two Truths About Suffering

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.
–Romans 8:29

What can we cling to when we are going through a time of suffering? First of all, we need to understand that God’s purpose for our life is good. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” I have heard people try to explain this verse by saying, “There is a silver lining in every cloud. No matter how terrible the situation, you can find some good in it.” That is not what Paul was saying here. There is not a silver lining in every cloud. There are some circumstances that have absolutely zero good in them. But what Paul was saying here is that God is able to work all of those things–not only the good things, but the terrible things in your life–for good. That “good” is not a satisfying marriage, a disease-free life, or a full bank account. No, God is working all things together for the good purpose explained in verse 29: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” God is using every circumstance in your life to mold you to become just like His Son, Jesus Christ. He is shaping you to resemble Jesus in the way you think, the way you react, the way you talk, and the things you love.

How does God do that? It is not through the good times but the difficult times that God makes you like Christ. One of the most interesting verses in the New Testament is Hebrews 5:8, which says, “Although [Jesus] was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.” Jesus was perfect, and yet there are some things even Jesus needed to learn. And the Bible says He learned obedience not by the things He enjoyed, but by the things He suffered. It is through those difficult times that God molds us and shapes us and hammers away the things in our lives that are not like Christ.

That leads to a second truth about suffering: God’s purpose for our lives requires some discomfort. C. S. Lewis wrote, “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on. . . . But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of. . . . You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” God’s purpose for your life is going to require some pain and discomfort.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Healing Words For Hurting Hearts” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

C. S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity” (1952; repr., New York: HarperOne, 2015), 205.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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