Kid’s and even some adults read a book or watch a movie and to varying degrees pretend or imagine what it would be like to be one of the characters in the story. I shared with my children last night that we, all of us, really are characters in a true story. We are actors in a story that is currently unfolding and it’s also a story that has been laid out before us in the Bible. Our parts have been given to us, “since before the founding of the world.” We weren’t there for the beginning of the story, but we will be there for the end.
So many people believe their beginning is an accident of nature and that their end is the grave. They don’t know that their lives have real meaning and context and purpose. What I mean by that is that God takes everyday, ordinary events and uses them to change us into something that would simply not be possible on our own. In fact, He does it in ways that we would have never dreamed possible. It works like this. God brings / allows difficult events and people to come into our lives to highlight areas of needed change in our character. Suffering, loss and pain raise to the surface of our lives the most disgusting aspects of our character. Once observed and accepted, we then have the freewill option of accepting Jesus’ invitation to change.
. If our motive for living is to become like Jesus, this invitation to change is what we’ll notice.
. If our motive is anything else, the pain / betrayal / disappointment that comes with this life will push character change out of the picture leaving only anger, bitterness or emptiness remaining.
Romans 8:29 is key to understanding this paradigm. While God may use our suffering in “all things” (vs. 28) for many reasons, the bottom line reason, the main reason, the key reason for allowing suffering is this.
“For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son. . .”
God uses the suffering that comes with this life on earth to make our character like that of Jesus. In fact I have never witnessed this type of character change in the absence of suffering. Most humans spend so much time trying to avoid suffering (much like toddlers, atheists seem hyper allergic to suffering) that they completely miss the learning that can only come from being in the midst of suffering.
Don’t waste your sorrow. Allow God to change you, conform you, transform you into the likeness of Jesus.