If you love pain, raise your hand.
Disappointment? Rejection? Loss?
What! No takers? Yeah, me neither.
No one likes to go through hard times, rough patches, or difficult circumstances. None of us would choose pain, suffering, rejection, or loss.
But . . .
God is in the business of taking those things that we would never choose and turning them in to something for our good. Here are some examples.
Joseph wouldn’t have chosen to be sold into slavery by his brothers (Gen. 37). Or to be wrongfully accused and thrown into prison (Gen. 39). But . . . God used it to feed a hungry nation (Gen. 41).
Daniel wouldn’t have chosen to have his country taken over (Dan. 1:1) or to be forced to live in the palace of the invading king (Dan. 1:6-7). He wouldn’t have chosen to be betrayed by his coworkers or to have to choose between his faith and his life (Dan. 6). I am sure that if Daniel was writing his own story, he wouldn’t have picked to be thrown into a den of hungry lions (Dan. 6:16-18). But . . . God used it to turn the heart of a pagan king and to show a nation God’s power and mercy (Dan. 6:25-27).
Mary wouldn’t have chosen the public humiliation of becoming pregnant out-of-wedlock. She wouldn’t have picked to risk losing her fiancée either (Matt. 1). Later in life, she never would have chosen to watch her son die on a cross. But . . . God used it to offer redemption to sinners, hope for the hopeless, a home for the lost.
These stories aren’t just stories. They are hard evidence that God means what He says when He promises He can redeem any disappointment, challenge, or difficult circumstance.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
God’s promise is that He is able to work all things—including hard things, painful things, sad things, uncomfortable things, and scary things to our good.
This doesn’t mean that God causes things to “teach us a lesson,” or that we will always be able to see the purpose for a trial. It also doesn’t mean that God is reactionary, waiting to see what happens and then scrambling to make something good out of it. Even when we can’t understand why something is happening, God’s promise is that we can rest in knowing that He is busy working so that the end result will be for our good.
I’ve seen this promise hold true in my life many times. For example:
- I wouldn’t have chosen for my parents to divorce. But . . . God has used it to give me a passion for strengthening my own marriage and the marriages of those around me.
- I wouldn’t have chosen to have a baby with serious health problems in the womb. But . . . God has used it to strengthen my faith in him and to allow me to minister to others with serious health scares.
- I wouldn’t have chosen to suffer with chronic headaches. But . . . God has used it to increase my dependence on Him, to press me in to prayer, and to remind me that when I am weak, He is very, very strong.
What about you? Are their circumstances in your life that you wouldn’t have chosen? Have you seen God working them for your good?