We live in a world where pain, suffering, sorrow, disappointment and death are commonplace and a permanent feature of the human experience until Jesus Christ returns. It is good for God’s children to understand why God brings adversity into our lives and how to respond to it in a way that glorifies God.
The Bible tells us in Rom. 8:29 that God’s overall plan for His children is to conform them to the image of His Son. This was as much of God’s plan of salvation as justification or glorification. Each believer would be the object of God’s sanctifying work to eliminate the thoughts, attitudes, words and actions of the old, pre-Christian self and replace them with the new self in Christ. In other words, anything that is not “Christlike;” like a sculptor chiseling off excess stone until his statue is just the way he wants it. Because sin is rooted so deeply in us, it needs constant attention from God to keep us on course to becoming more like Jesus. Our sinful flesh is full of pride, selfishness, desire for approval, desire for positions of importance, etc. We all seem to have a little bit of the Pharisee left in us: they did all their works to be seen of men! ( Mat. 23:5 ).
God uses many means to help us improve our Christian walk and become more like Jesus. In Hebrews 12:5,6, we are told that God chastens those He loves. As an earthly father chastens his son when he needs correction, so God disciplines His children to alert them and remind them to obey His will as their highest priority. The chastening of God is perfect and has as its ultimate goal: “that we might be partakers of His holiness.” (Heb. 12:10). This is another way of saying “we become more like Christ.” The pain, disappointments, broken relationships, stress, crushed dreams that God uses to sanctify us are not pleasant but those who are put through such difficulties become fruit bearers who resemble Jesus more and more (Heb. 12:11).
When you are facing hard times and serious difficulties, you should immediately recall the scriptures like Heb. 12:5-11 and realize your heavenly Father is showing you His love by not letting you stay at your present spiritual level. He wants you to grow, mature and advance to greater Christlikeness for His glory and your joy (James 1:2-4).
God’s promise during the adversities will not fail. He works all things out for good to them who love Him, who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Count it all joy that God loves you and has your good in mind at all times, even during the darkest hour. Remember, our sin is rooted deep in us and requires deep cutting with the Vinedresser’s pruning knife. You can have joy and give thanks (1Thess. 5:18) even during the hardest trial when you realize that this is part of God’s loving plan of salvation.
Pastor Bob Dennis