Certainty At The Center - Beside Bethesda
Certainty at the Center
I CAN’T BEGIN to describe the feeling that swept over me shortly after my diving accident, when I realized I was a quadriplegic—that my paralysis was total and complete. Devastation? Depression? Denial? None of those terms even come close. The permanence of my condition was too much reality to bear.
It didn’t help that my friends were going off to college, getting jobs, and going on dates while I was stuck in a hospital bed. My future? In a wheelchair? I couldn’t bear to contemplate it. I cried out to God. I wanted reassurance that my world wasn’t ripping apart at the seams. I longed for someone to promise that everything would be okay.
This is the heartfelt plea of anyone who suffers. We want assurance that somehow, someway, things will work out in the end, though we can’t imagine how. We want to know that our world is orderly and stable, not spinning off into nightmarish chaos. We want to know that God is at the center of our suffering, not only holding our lives together but also holding us.
In Romans 8 we have the massive promise of that assurance: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (verse 28, ESV). In other words, the Lord is so supremely in charge of the world that everything touching our lives as Christians is ordered in such a way that it serves our good. This is true whether we face cancer, broken relationships, job loss, bankruptcy . . . or even a broken neck at age seventeen. The strong hope of the believer is not that we will escape “bad things” in the course of our lives, but that God will transform every one of our hardships into an instrument of His mercy to do us good.
That assurance goes way beyond the promise that “everything will be okay.” Romans 8:29 reveals a far more stunning, mind-boggling purpose than that: Through our sufferings, we are being shaped into the very image of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
You need not panic or be swept away over your problems and setbacks. Paul said your sufferings are small and short when compared with the weight of glory they are accruing for you in heaven. So bear with heartbreak and hardship a bit longer. These things are expanding your soul’s capacity for joy, worship, and service in heaven more than you can begin to imagine. “We must wait patiently and confidently” (Romans 8:25, NLT). Wait and trust in the Lord. Your present hope and expectation will not disappoint you.
GOING DEEPER . . .
In face of all this, what is there left to say? If God is for us, who can be against us? He that did not hesitate to spare his own Son but gave him up for us all—can we not trust such a God to give us, with him, everything else that we can need? . . . I have become absolutely convinced that neither death nor life, neither messenger of Heaven nor monarch of earth, neither what happens today nor what may happen tomorrow, neither a power from on high nor a power from below, nor anything else in God’s whole world has any power to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 8:31-32,38-39, PH
Stop and consider how God has transformed your hardships into instruments of needed change in your life. Don’t allow today’s trials and worries, large and intimidating as they might appear to be now, to overwhelm the reality of God’s care, His ability to transform your situation, and His unshakable plan for good in your life.