(Best-Laid Plans: Part 2)
When the hardest things have come into my life I look for the reason. Even knowing that asking, “Why, God?” was cliché, that’s exactly what I found myself crying out from the depths of pain during my most difficult trials.
When I had a miscarriage, I wailed, “Why God?” I felt like if I knew there was a great purpose I could handle the pain, but I couldn’t imagine the reason why God would create a baby and then take it away before she could have a life. (See how I slipped and said “she” there? I’ve always imagined she was my girl.)
When I had a second miscarriage only three months later, the feelings were different, but still I shook my head in disbelief, and wondered bitterly, “What is God doing?”
I know that it’s not just me who plays this “Why, God” game, thinking that that’s where we’ll find our comfort. I’ve watched as friends, struggling in the pit of adversity, frantically search for a reason. They believe that knowing what God is up to will give them the ability to endure.
Often we can look back once the pain is eased and see that there has been some good reason for our terrible suffering. But I want to ask you an important question: How will we respond if we can’t see it? Are we placing our faith in the silver lining? Or is our faith in our good God himself?
Hope in suffering comes from knowing that we have a good, loving and powerful God, and that every trial is subject to Him according to his good purpose for each of us, his beloved children
On Monday we covered “Best-Laid Plans Gone Awry, Part 1” in which I walked through the good and trustworthy character of our sovereign God. Today we’ll discuss his good purposes. It’s the glorious combination of the character of our God and our ability to trust his good purposes that can give us hope in the hardest trials.
It’s the glorious combination of the character of our God and our ability to trust his good purposes that can give us hope in the hardest trials.
God’s Greater Purpose In Trials: For Our Good and For His Glory
Every purpose of God is to act for our good and for his glory. That is an enormous statement and I stand behind it. In fact I’ll say it again, and better.
Every purpose of God is to bring about the best for his children and to display his glory to a world that tries to turn a blind eye to him.
For Our Good
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
God’s good purposes in every move he makes is for us to be moving from being called (“Hey, you! Look over here”)… to being justified (saved, cleansed)… to being glorified (finished, in Heaven).
Do you follow that? That means that EVERY·THING that God allows to happen that hurts, saddens, confuses, or angers us is designed carefully and intentionally to move us along in our process of walking with God.
He may have other purposes that he is working out in his wisdom, but the one thing you can be sure of no matter what hardship comes your way, is that God is drawing you close.*
How is your current trial or struggle moving you closer to God? My struggle with this coronavirus is that it is showing me new areas of sin and selfishness that I had always before managed with routine and hobbies. Now that my routine and my hobbies have been carefully extricated by God, my sin is rearing it’s ugly head. I praise God for this (horrible, terrible, embarassing) blessing, because the time will now come that its ugly head will be amputated. From what I understand about sin, I think it will grow back, but God will reach into my life to show me new ways I can grow. Again and again. Until the day I’m with him in Heaven and my sin will be truly dead forever. Amen!
For His Glory
The night before Jesus went to his death, he had only one thing on his mind. As he prayed those desperate prayers to his Father, and the sweat came as drops of blood from his head, what did he ask for? Above all else he asked for God’s glory. He said, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” John 17:4,5. Above all else, Jesus’ attention was on the magnificence of God being shown among the nations, and his great desire to return to that glory after his work here on earth was done.
When we face suffering, can we crave the glory of God above all else the way Jesus did? What if we craved the glory of God even more than we craved our good? What if we asked “How will this trial bring glory to God?” more often than we asked, “How will this trial be for my good in the end?”
So then let’s ask it. How do our trials bring glory to God? Let’s be real, how could my miscarriage possibly bring glory to God? Wouldn’t he be glorified more in healing than in suffering?
I don’t know!
I admit that I don’t understand how our good and glorious God chooses to work within the confines a broken world for now. I know that he is powerful and could end this broken world in this exact minute if that was his will. But I know that he in his wisdom has chosen to carry out his plan within the system of brokenness – for now. And my best guess is that he waits because he has children in this broken world who haven’t turned to him yet. He waits because of his love and mercy.
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
2 Peter 3:9 ESV
Our Good FOR God’s Glory
To borrow a turn of phrase from John Piper, our good is God’s glory. Some of the primary ways that we bring glory to God are by loving him, trusting him, and delighting in him. John Piper says, “One of the most precious truths in the Bible is that God’s greatest interest is to glorify the wealth of his grace by making sinners happy in him — in him!” (“Our Good is his Glory” by John Piper)
I often think of God’s plan for us as the story he has written for us. And although we may think we have a better idea, the story God has written for us, his children, is the best story. It’s the story that will keep us close to him, instead of distracted by the shiny things of the world. It’s the story that will grow our spiritual roots to hold us fast when trials blow. It’s the story that will bring us home to him, when this time of earth is just a shadow and our real life begins.
The story God has written for us, his children, is the best story…It’s the story that will bring us home to him, when this time of earth is just a shadow and our real life begins.
God is good! He is a God of steadfast love, unending mercies, great faithfulness, goodness, and abundant compassion.
We can trust him. The story he’s written for us will bring us home to Him.
Think It Through
- What trial are you experiencing right now? On a scale of 1-10, how difficult has it been for you?
- Lamentations 3:22-25,31-32 talks about the beautiful character of God. It mentions his steadfast love, unending mercies, great faithfulness, goodness, and abundant compassion. Which of those gives you the most hope today?
- One of God’s purposes in every hard thing he brings into our lives is to carry us along in our spiritual growth and to deepen our relationship with him. (Romans 8:28-30) Have you seen your relationship with God grow through your trials? Have you learned to depend more on him? If you haven’t, have you considered why that might be?
*Note: This brings to mind the parable of the sower, in which some seed falls in rocky ground. The plant grows but can’t grow a strong root. Consequently, when trials come and grow up like weeds, they choke out the plant. In some cases, when a person faces trials they find that they never had a root, and they turn from God. Even this is a mercy from God. If a person discovers that their beliefs aren’t rooted firmly in the truth they then have an opportunity to turn fully to God.