Your Pain has a Purpose
[Guest Post by Kate Motaung – We both write for iBelieve.com and it’s always nice to share a fellow writer’s story, especially when they write about one of my favorite Bible verses–Romans 8:28. Be encouraged my friends!]
I have a limited threshold for listening to the news.
My stomach churns and I swallow hard as I hear story after story of brokenness. Like shards of glass pieced together, the resulting mosaic has very few smooth edges.
Shards of large scale calamities.
Tsunamis swallowing entire villages.
Hurricanes ripping through hearts and homes.
All stemming from the same source — a bite of fruit in a perfect garden. I turn off the radio with a heavy sigh, unable to take any more.
But the shards of hardship are not just ‘out there,’ in the news. The jagged effects of the fall cut into everyday life.
The list goes on, and begs the question: “Isn’t there any good left in the world?”
Cue Romans 8.
The red velvet curtain opens and another character appears on the stage, right in the midst of the chaotic scene called life. The trials and tribulations do not subside, but the wordless script of this newly revealed Person in the background transforms everything.
His very presence causes new elements to arise:
The suffering is no longer senseless; your pain has a purpose now.
This has been a hard truth for me to wrap my mind around — one that I may never fully understand. It’s a truth that has caused many to reject God altogether, claiming it’s just too hard to accept.
How could the mass destruction afforded by a typhoon be good? How could the brutal murders of innocent school children be good?
Of course they weren’t.
They were horrendous.
The Bible doesn’t say they were good.
But it does say that ‘in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28).
It took me years to connect each note in this beautiful song of hope. First, I had to realize that it does not say that all things are good. It says that God works all things for good.
There’s a big difference.
Secondly, He does not work all things for the good of all people, but rather ‘of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’
Thirdly, I had to accept that He does not just work some things for the good of those who love him, but all things. The delightful things and the gut-wrenching things.
What a comfort and blessing to be wrapped in the sovereign blanket plan of the Lord, with each experience carefully knit for our good!
But one question remains: What exactly does this passage mean by ‘good’?
Some may think of blessings like health, success, prosperity, or happiness. Those are good things, to be sure. But they’re not the ‘good’ that is spoken of here.
Verse 29 reveals, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son ….”
Conformed to the likeness of his Son.
Is it possible that in all things God is working for His children to become more like Christ?
I think so.
But what about that miscarriage? That car crash? That terminal illness?
I once spoke to a family whose little girl died in her mother’s arms on the mission field just weeks before I met them. My heart was weighted down with their burden for days after our conversation.
Yet in spite of their acute loss, the words spoken by the girl’s father were infused with hope.
He shared openly of the intense pain they have endured, and how the gnawing ache continues to be ever-present. Yet he confessed that he loves Jesus even more as a result. His desire for heaven has increased manifoldly. He has grown exponentially in his understanding of the depth of God’s love and the agony that our Heavenly Father sustained as He sacrificed His only Son.
Has God used tragedy in your life to conform you to the likeness of His Son?
The news hurts.
But as I hear story after story of pain and tragedy, I ask God to help me trust that He is indeed working all things for the good of those who love him, conforming each one of us to the likeness of His Son.
Question: How is God using your current circumstances to conform you to His likeness?
Kate Motaung grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan before spending ten years in Cape Town, South Africa. She spends her days relying on the Lord’s grace to support her South African husband in his ministry and homeschool their three children. Kate writes for iBelieve and Ungrind, and has contributed to (In)Courage, Start Marriage Right, Thriving Family, Radiant Magazine, MOPS, and Young Disciple Magazine. She blogs at Heading Home and can be found on Twitter @k8motaung.
Photo: klearchos, Creative Commons]