“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 for them.” – Romans 8:28 (NLT)
This passage has been a favorite of many people over the years. In fact, I seem to recall it being a “memory verse” in the “Purpose Driven Life” series conducted by a church I previously attended.
Unfortunately, I often see this simple passage of scripture taken out of context. It’s often used to imply that God will shower gifts upon those that really love him; leaving those that aren’t being drenched in God’s blessing feeling disenfranchised and alone.
Although I don’t interpret the passage that way, I have never come up with a solid interpretation before.
Anyone that lives in the real world can see that very few are being showered with gifts from above. Most people look no further than finances when they think about God’s blessings. Even if you stop there it’s easy to see that the majority of us have to work hard for everything we have and many are barely scraping by.
Many that appear to have all of God’s financial blessings are so deep in debt trying to keep up with the Joneses that it will take them years or even decades to crawl out of the hole.
Aside from that, God’s blessings don’t only manifest themselves in finances. God can bless someone by giving them peace, hope, faith, love, patience, or all sorts of other things that, while less tangible than money, are essential to a fruitful life.
I say all of that to say this.
Yesterday I was reading a blog that I subscribe to called “Beauty Beyond Bones.” The author is a young Christian that uses her blog to discuss many issues. Her primary focus is on eating disorders as she is recovering from Anorexia herself. In her post entitled “The Silent Scream” she made a simple, yet poignant statement that I found to be a perfect way to look at Romans 8:28.
She states, “I have always been a believer that God uses everything for good. No suffering is ever wasted, because eventually, it will be used to help another person.”
No suffering is ever wasted.
What a perfect complement to my favorite verse in which Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 NIV
I know there are so many people that feel as though God is ignoring them or even punishing them. They look at Romans 8:28 and wonder why He isn’t making good on His promise.
God isn’t ignoring you. He isn’t punishing you. He will use your suffering to glorify Himself.
God will turn your mess into a message. He’ll turn a test into a testimony. He’ll turn your demons into a demonstration of His grace and mercy.
We shouldn’t expect gifts from God. He might choose to give them to us but we shouldn’t expect them.
What we should expect is trouble. Life is hard and we shouldn’t expect otherwise.
But for those that love God, we should expect that all of our troubles, trials, and hardships can be turned into something worthwhile. We should expect that God will allow us to suffer so that He can be glorified. And we should expect that He will be right there with us no matter what we’re suffering through.
So if you’re suffering right now, I say embrace it. Follow Paul’s example.
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV)
You know that God can use it to glorify Himself and that’s really what life is about.