Summary: How to overcome our suffering?
Last June, one of my students named Steve applied for university. As July came closer and closer, all of Steve’s friends began to get their college and university acceptances except for Steve. He got rejected at every school he had applied to and now; he is having very hard time with his parents and does not know what to do in his life.
My wife’s friend Young-Hee and her husband were going crazy when they finally became pregnant. Young-Hee had had many health problems and the young couple had been afraid that they could never have children. Shortly after they had shared the good news with family and friends, Young-Hee began spotting and miscarried for the fourth time.
A few days ago, I got a phone call from my mom. They were rebuilding the house and one of the workers fell off from 5th floor and died. They are going through very tough time and they even have to pay more than 100,000 because the person who’s in charge of the construction has ran away.
Have you ever had a time in your life when things just didn’t go your way? You prayed and hoped and planned for success but somehow, things just didn’t work out. Like many other Christians who face these times of suffering, struggle or disappointment, you may have cried out, “Why me, God? Why are you letting this happen to me?” For some, this is the time when bitterness sets in and they turn their backs on faith in Jesus Christ and leave the church for good.
One of the students from my previous church sent me a mail saying, “She is really depressed these days for some reasons. She is struggling with the problem that if God is fulfilled with love why would he let us suffer and struggle?”
We are all aware of the absolute truth that “In this world there will be trouble”. We can count on it. No matter how swimmingly our lives are sailing along, there will come a time when things won’t go our way.
Today’s scripture teaches us how to endure and conquer these difficult periods of life. If your life is going great right now, this is the best time to reflect on life’s challenges because when troubles come, you need to be armed and ready to fight with the truth of God. But if you are in a time of struggle right now, take heart. It is not too late to receive God’s word of hope.
Romans 8:28 begins with a well-known verse that we like to quote but often misapply. “All things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” We generally take this to mean that no matter how bad things look right now, in the end, everything will turn out for the best; which usually means the way we want things to be. We usually take verse 28 to support our own ambitions and purposes. We prefer to quote the promise that “All things God works for the good” but we leave out the condition “For those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
1. When things don’t go your way, the first thing to remember is God’s purpose for you! What is God’s purpose, God’s ultimate goal for each one of us?
Some of us have the mistake idea that God’s purpose is for us to be happy. We assume that happiness is our right and goal. We have been heard the saying “It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you’re happy” and “Don’t worry, be happy.” But God’s ultimate goal for us is not happiness.
Others of us have the mistaken idea that God’s purpose for us is to be “successful”. Some of us have been influenced by our parents and assume God does the same so we make it God’s will that all Korean kids get straight A’s in High School, go to University, graduate from a professional faculty, get a high paying job, buy a house, get married and have at least one son.
But according to the scripture reading today, we can see that God’s purpose has nothing to do with either happiness or success. 8:29 – “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” God’s purpose is to conform us to the image of his Son, likeness of his Son.
A friend of mine has to remain single to take care of her sick mother. Her mom had to suffer with stroke and is not able to stand and walk at all. A friend of mine got engaged and was waiting to get married, but her fiancée was drowned to death.
What’s life all about? Some will prosper in business and others will fail, some will have many children and others will not be able to have even one. Some will be born in a happy family but some will not even have their own family. We have no assurance of happiness or success. All we know is that God will work all things together for our good in order to fulfill his ultimate goal of making us like Jesus. When things don’t go your way, remember God’s purpose!