What passage can better deal with suffering in a Christian’s life? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Many times I hear a testimony about overcoming suffering in one’s life. Too many times, I hear them reference Jeremiah 29:11. This is the passage about how God has plans not to harm but to help and give a hope and a future. Now this does show something of the nature of God, but it is about the Jews going into the Babylonian captivity. Most of us haven’t been through that.
One could gather a principle from this passage that suffering that takes place in one’s life will be used for good, but there are better passages that can be used. Genesis 50:20, for example, can be used to show that what man intends for evil, God can use for good. The best passage I think to go to is Romans 8.
In this passage, Paul tells us about the life in the Spirit. I wish to start that point by saying that too often we go to Romans 7 and find our identity. We look at the whole thing about the things I don’t want to do, I do, and the things I want to do, I don’t do. We take that as describing our present Christian life. I don’t think this is so and this is Paul speaking in character as Adam in the garden. After all, there never was a time when Paul was not under the Law.
The great danger is if you identify yourself in Romans 7, you could miss your real identity in Romans 8. This is a passage about how we have life in the Spirit and we have no condemnation. Then we get about 2/3 through, Paul talks about how all things work for our good and then about how nothing can separate us from Jesus.
Starting with all things working for our good, notice that. If we could as Christians all come to believe this promise, we would not be as fearful and anxious as we often are. We have an idea that God will work things out for His glory, and we are correct, but we act like that is the only thing He’s working for and we don’t matter.
Yet this passage tells us that everything will work out for our good as well provided that we love the Lord. This means that if you are a Christian, whatever suffering takes place in your life will be used for good. This doesn’t mean that you have to like the suffering and you shouldn’t go out seeking suffering, but it does mean that suffering is not pointless in your life. Suffering will be used for your good.
If this is true, then in gamer language, you have the ultimate cheat code. Whatever happens, will happen for your good. Nothing can ultimately undermine that. All that needs to be done is to trust in God, which is the really hard part. To be suspicious though is to really doubt the love of God and doubt He is in control of this universe.
But if it is true, it is something staggering. God has worked out this whole universe so that every bit of suffering in a believer’s life will be redeemed for good. It might not all happen in this phase of reality, but it will happen. That is something explicitly about us and works a lot better than Jeremiah 29 for us. Go there instead.