Good Sufferings

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By Nate Champneys

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). If you spend any time around the Church, you will hear this verse often quoted. Honestly, it has always been one of my personal favorites; however, I often think we take it and make it into something that it’s not.

As human beings, our emphasis is almost always on doing. One of the first things we ask someone when we meet them is, “What do you do for a living?” We evaluate others by what they do. We tend to find our worth as a person by what we ourselves do or don’t do. So with a verse like Romans 8:28, we hear it and we immediately want to go apply this to our “doings.” We want to say, This means that whatever I am doing in my life, God is for me and is going to help me accomplish it. God will make all my “doings” prosper.

Then the trials come. We fail at the project we are working on. Our car breaks down. We lose our house. A loved one falls deathly ill. How do we reconcile the trials in our lives with Romans 8:28? “I thought God was for me. He must not care. He must not even be there. He must not exist.” Yet Romans 8:28 was spoken by the apostle Paul, a man who was very familiar with suffering. How is suffering good?

When you look at chapter 8 as a whole, though, this verse starts to become clear. In chapter 8 the focus is on our identity as God’s children, and as His children we have been given right standing with God. We have a Daddy who loves us. Let’s read one verse further, into verse 29. “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Ahhhh! That is the good. Here Paul clarifies what he means. The “good” that he speaks about is not that everything in our lives is going to go perfectly. The good is that through it all we can trust that it is part of the process of Him conforming us into the image of Christ.

So God may not make all your “doings” prosper. Your project may fail. Your car may break down. You may lose your house. Your loved one may die. But in all these things and more, you can take the promise to the bank that your Father in Heaven is using those very difficult things to conform you into the image of His Son.

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