“Your eternal word, O LORD, stands firm in heaven. Your faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth you created. Your regulations remain true to this day, for everything serves your plans.”
Psalms 119:89-91 NLT
“Everything serves Your plans.” It would seem from that statement that no experience on earth is useless. How could everything on this journey be useful? The hurts, pains, sorrows, and aches of this world, what possible profit could they bring to anyone?
I’ve had my share of painful experiences that have made me wonder, “What was THAT all about?” At the time, it certainly didn’t feel or look like something that could in any way be part of God’s plan. God is good, and everything about Him is good.
“You are good and do only good….”
Psalms 119:68 a NLT
In fact, His goodness is so overwhelming that it is awe-inspiring!
“But afterward the people will return and devote themselves to the LORD their God and to David’s descendant, their king. In the last days, they will tremble in awe of the LORD and of his goodness.”
Hosea 3:5 NLT
We hear it in church, from friends in greeting, “God is good, all the time, God is good.” But in our hearts we struggle with the reality of the aches and pains of life assaulting us on every side and wonder, “How can God be good in this? What kind of purpose can He derive from something so destructive, so painful?” Then, if we are honest with ourselves, we ask the question, “Is God really good?”
For some unknown reason, we seem to think that as believers we should have a “free pass” in life. We should be free from all troubles and trials, why, isn’t that what we were promised when we received Jesus? Weren’t we told that “Everything is going to work out fine.” When sickness, financial troubles, and, depending where you are in the world, civil unrest fall on us like a thick fog – we are bewildered. How could this happen? How could God let it happen?
Jesus put it plainly when He said in John 16:33 NLT “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Accepting the fact that trouble will come to us in this sin-riddled and fallen world is one thing, but being of “good cheer,” or having a good attitude in the middle of it? Peter even takes it a bit further when he said in 1 Peter 4:12,13 NLT “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.”
It would seem that Christians have long hoped for that “free pass” on the aches and pains of life. No matter who we are or where we come from, life will happen and trouble will ensue. The question that we have to answer in the middle of the trouble is this, “How much will this temporary problem effect eternity?” We have an Elder Brother (Jesus) Who was, like us, touched by the pains of life yet He managed to keep His eyes focused on the prize that was to come.
What was the prize? Heaven? Streets of gold? A nice mansion, never having to clean house? Quite the contrary, the prize Jesus sought for was you and I; we are the prize He suffered to win. He understood there was so much more than what He faced on any given day; He knew He had to finish His life’s earthly journey well for others. His journey left Him scarred, but He got the prize. So who are we to imagine that we won’t get out of this life scarred as we serve Him?
A lifelong missionary, Amy Carmichael, penned these words in her poem, “Hast Thou No Scar?” (Click for full version.)
No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And piercèd are the feet that follow Me.
But thine are whole; can he have followed far
Who hast no wound or scar?
Every day gives us an opportunity to look into eternity as we let God connect the dots of our life experiences. Yes, the devastating ones together with them amazing ones, they all get sewn together into a wonderful tapestry of God’s amazing plan. The people we meet, those we help, those who help us, ultimately end up playing a part in His plan.
It bears keeping in mind that this world, even at it she best, can never compare to the Heaven we will one day inherit. Why do we live as though this life on earth is eternal? We are but foreigners, strangers on this earth, looking for a city whose Builder and Maker is God (Hebrews 11:13-16).
“We have all eternity to celebrate our victories, but only one short hour to win them.” Moffat