Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Room 314: All Things for Good?

Whether we are enduring the death of a child, a long-term illness, or some other significant suffering, we long to know that our suffering is significant. In a recent sermon on Romans 8:28 and 29, Pastor Tim Keller helped me understand the significance of our sufferings, and that our sufferings are not allowed by God merely to better our earthly circumstances but to become more like Jesus. The Apostle Paul writes, "...And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose..." Romans 8:28. This passage does not mean that God is using our sufferings to better our earthly circumstances. As Keller points out, we should not use this verse to think that God necessarily uses the death of a child to improve hospital procedures, the dissolution of a relationship to give us a better spouse in the future or a job loss now to ultimately give a better job in the future. Instead, Keller points to the very next verse to show that God calls us to endure all suffering for the eternal purpose of shaping us into Christ. "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." Romans 8.29. What great assurance we have that our greatest sufferings will not result in just earthly improvements, in changes in our circumstances that may or may not last, and that are dependent on human effort and will. Instead, we can rest in the assurance that our sufferings are allowed to create in us an eternal weight of glory such that Jesus is considered the first of many brothers and sisters. This promise for an eternal consequence to our sufferings makes the endurance of these earthly trials far more worthwhile.

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