It’s a Scriptural principle of major significance. Once we have settled it in our spirit and accepted it intellectually—emotions will follow in step.
In his second letter to the believers at Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul (divinely inspired) expresses this truth both succinctly and clearly.
“We proudly tell God’s other churches about your ENDURANCE and FAITHFULNESS in all the PERSECUTIONS and HARDSHIPS (tribulations, afflictions) you are suffering. And God will use this persecution to SHOW HIS JUSTICE and to MAKE YOU WORTHY of His kingdom for which you are suffering. In His justice He will pay back those who persecute you” (2 Thessalonians 1:4-6 NLT, emphasis, additions mine).
Obviously, Paul is not referring to hardships resulting from sinful actions/attitudes—he has just commended them for a “flourishing faith and growing love” (2 Thessalonians 1:3).
If one tries to intellectually (apart from the Spirit) understand/ reconcile the inexplicable, he/she will constantly live in the fog of confusion/frustration. It all comes back to knowing that a loving Heavenly Father is preparing us for the eternal. This one simple(?) acceptance of Scriptural truth will determine our approach to this earthly journey—joy or sadness, sweetness or bitterness, peace or inner turmoil, self worth (in Christ) or self pity, victor or victim!
OK—we can understand the personal benefit part (Romans 8:28), but how does this run on a parallel track with God’s own glory? Can these two exist and function simultaneously and have complementary significance? Emphatically, yes!
Initially, the response is a valiant attempt to put our minds around the awesome greatness of the Almighty. Nothing is even difficult for Him (Jeremiah 32:17). That realization nudges is in the right direction. Yet, another track must also be in focus. Simply, the goodness of God. Throughout Scripture He is depicted as a loving Heavenly Father who desires only the very best for His Children (Luke 12:22-32). Seeing His sons and daughters enduring difficulties and faithfully walking in obedience to His Word confirms eternal purpose. “God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10 NLT) . From our submissive trust, the Father receives true glory. “Let is hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise” (Hebrews 10:23 NLT).
I suppose this concept is really not so difficult to accept objectively; however, it does become exponentially more challenging when it reaches the point of subjective involvement. So, let this be a word from the Lord for a weary, burdened heart. God really does love YOU! He really does know and care about your circumstances. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used little birds and wild flowers to illustrate God’s care for even the mundane things of life, such as food and clothing. His summation is that worrying is useless and, as a matter of fact, your Heavenly Father already knows about your needs (Matthew 6:25-33). This kind of God is not on a vendetta to beat you into submission. In spite of every appearance, on the other side of the deep valley, the ultimate outcome (which may or may not be our desire/preference) will further develop the image of Christ within. In his popular book, Don’t Waste Your Sorrows, Paul Billheimer speaks of the “necessity of decentralization” in order for believers to begin to conform to Christ’s image. One brief quote. “Christ’s suffering only matured and perfected His human experience. It purged nothing from His moral nature even as a man because He was unfallen. No stain of sin ever marred His humanity. But not so with fallen man. There is no way that Christlike character can be formed in man without suffering because he cannot be decentralized otherwise. If he will not suffer, if he determines to evade it, if he refuses to allow the life of nature and self to go to the cross, to that extent he will remain hard, self centered, unbroken, and therefore unChristlike”
(Don’t Waste Your Sorrows, page 47).
Today let’s with clear minds, honest hearts, and courageous faith remind ourselves—
This season is yet another chapter in this brief earthly journey
and the Heavenly Father has only allowed this moment for my
PERSONAL SPIRITUAL BENEFIT and in it, by it, and through it
GOD WILL RECEIVE GLORY!