We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.
Ain’t that the truth?
Stop and think about that quote for a minute. Does it ring true with you as it did with me? I absolutely know that God has a purpose for my life and that he is using me daily to make an impact on others. He is also using the circumstances in my life to shape me into the image of Christ. I know that a lot of times I wish he would mold me and shape me in a less painful fashion. Sometimes it is difficult in the struggles to see what God is trying to do with us. Sometimes all we can do is just grab hold of my faith in God and try not to let go. This C.S. Lewis quote made me think of a great passage dealing with the struggles of life.
In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, Paul writes:
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
Paul, who had no doubt that he was an Apostle charged with spreading the Good News of Christ to the world, also knew that following that path would cause him tremendous personal pain. He was beaten, run out-of-town, his name maligned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and ultimately killed for his words and his beliefs. In the midst of all that, Paul must have asked himself sometimes if it was all worth it. However, because Paul stayed the course and “fought the good fight” and “finished the race” he left us with 13 letters in the New Testament that encourage, uplift, and instruct us. He wrote the words above to the Corinthian church knowing that they too would face pressures and confusion and difficulties.
We will also face these things but we find that God will give us strength to hold on in the pressure, hope instead of despair, a friend in time of need, and restoration when we feel run down.
This is why Paul closes out this chapter with the following words: (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
It is difficult for us to fathom sometimes, but God really is reshaping us and making us into new creations. We can’t see it because we have a finite view of things, but God moves in a way that shapes us into what we ought to be. We must have hope in him and trust in him even when our circumstances don’t seem to make sense. We have to remember that we are here for but a short time and that our glory will be revealed in eternity.
Nothing that has ever shaped me in a positive way has come without pain. Whether it be the benefits of exercise, the learning of a new skill, the recognition of my sin and separation from God; it all requires some pain and adjustment as God molds me into the man that he wants me to be. Remember a diamond has to be cut many times to sparkle and shine. Gold must be melted and refined before it is crafted into a thing of beauty.
When the refining is complete, we find the perfect was masked by the imperfect the whole time; it simply needed to be brought forth.
So when you find yourself struggling with the pain of life that comes with God’s best for you, seek deeply to find what God is doing for your life. Has he healed broken relationships? Has he drawn you closer to himself? Has he helped you store up treasures in eternity?
Do not lose heart! Take things one day at a time and remember that our life, our struggles are temporary. One day we will stand before God, as Paul did, healthy and restored and whole and hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
*Photo courtesy of: JGI / Blend / Learning Pictures / Universal Images Group