So tell me, where did we get the notion that the Christian life is a piece of cake? Where is the evidence for the “name it, claim it” theology that promises God will skip along in front of us with His great Cosmic Broom, sweeping aside each trail and every troubling uncertainty? On the contrary, Jesus told His disciples that they should anticipate suffering. He said, “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. Paul wrote, “In all our troubles my joy knows no bounds. For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn – conflicts on the outside, fears within” 2 Cor 7:4-5.
Peter left no doubt about difficulties in this Christian life when he wrote, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the suffering of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed” 1 Peter 4:12-13. Note in each of these references the coexistence of both joy and pain.
Paul wrote “we know that all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. He simply wanted the Romans to know that God, who didn’t cause their suffering, would cause all their circumstances to cooperate with His divine plan – for their ultimate good. The “good” to which Paul referred was not the temporal blessings of health, wealth, admiration, or success, but being “conformed to the image of (God’s) Son, Jesus” v29.
be still When the storm howls
During a night crossing of familiar waters, a sudden storm proved too much even for these seasoned fishermen. Jesus let His disciples experience gale-force winds to strengthen their faith (Mark 4:36-41). Wind and waves were swamping their boats while an exhausted Jesus slept in the stern. In a panic they woke Him. They thought to themselves “didn’t it bother Him that they were about to die? What was He thinking? Then Jesus told the wind and waves to be quiet. Then He asked why they still had no faith in Him. Life in a protective bubble might sound good. But how strong would our faith be if we couldn’t discover for ourselves His reassuring word “be still” when the storms of life howl?
May we wait patiently and confidently because our heavenly Father is taking all the suffering, all the distress, all the evil, and causing them to work together for His glory and our spiritual good. He wants to make us like Jesus.