And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Undoubtedly, these words form one of the most precious promises to believers, that God is at work in each of our circumstances to accomplish His will. His will is specifically the reproduction of the character of Christ in our lives, that we might mirror in our thoughts and actions the transformation that He is accomplishing through His Word, through His Spirit, and through circumstances.
Many have undertook to form some type of discipleship course, some kind of step-by-step learning process to teach us the basic and foundational truths of the faith. Most of these are very good processes for learning and some step-by-step process is indispensible to our spiritual maturity.
Yet God still trumps them all for He works not just through some course that we study but through the events and relationships of each day’s experiences. He is the providential God who sees what is coming on our road ahead and can order our steps to meet it in just the right time.
You may have seen the little Christian poster or snippet of shallow Christian thought that says something like, “Nothing can happen to me today that God and I cannot handle.” The authors of such words mean well, and are probably intending to represent Romans 8:28-29, but they are doing an inadequate job. I am not sure it is right to say that nothing can happen to us that will overwhelm us, for sometimes it seems that the only way God can get our attention is to let us become overwhelmed with events to the point that we have no place to look but up. Only when Paul lost his sight was he ready to serve God. Only when Peter was overwhelmed with the reality of his denial of Christ was he ready to follow and be fruitful. Only when Joseph was sold into slavery and placed in prison was he prepared to lead the nation of Egypt. Only when David had been hounded for years by Saul was he able to serve as king. Only when Jonah was in the belly of the great fish was he prepared to preach in Nineveh.
Often God allows us to be overwhelmed, to the point that we can say like Paul said,
We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left, through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
2 Corinthians 6:3-10
And in this is the power of God experienced for our transformation, that not only do we take on little traits of kindnesses, but that our orientation for living is changed from self to God, from earthly possibilities and earthly perspectives to eternal possibilities and eternal perspectives.
In the process of living on this earth, of amassing for ourselves financial rewards, we can forget that these will all be taken from us at death, that our bodies, our investments and everything earthly will not endure into eternity.
What the verse above does not mean is that through hardship we learn the value of money and hard work. This is a good thing to learn, to respect the value of a dollar or a euro or whatever other currency you deal with, but this is not the main point of Romans 8. The key step that God seeks to achieve in our lives to make us like Christ is the realization of permanency of eternal realities in Christ. Only when that happens, only when we see that all physical things are temporary and that eternal realities are permanent, then is the image of Christ valuable to us.
Lord, to be like You is not a curse, not an unpleasant onus, but a joy filled existence. Let us see what it means to be like You, to think and to feel and to value like You do. Write Your laws on our hearts that we may desire to please You and serve You above all other things. Amen.