Good things can come from hard times
From Letters of Paul: 30-Day Bible Study
It’s easy to project our own definitions of “good,” “just,” and “loving” onto God. And why wouldn’t we? Before Jesus, all we know of goodness, justice, and love is what we see from the people around us.
Looking at the world without Jesus is like trying to see through someone else’s glasses. At best, we have an incomplete and imperfect view of what it means to be good or to love. At worst, we have a distorted or wrong understanding of what goodness, justice, and love look like.
That’s why the church was so confused and conflicted when Paul was suffering in the name of Jesus. Paul was the one to tell them about Jesus. He showed them the love, peace, and joy that comes with following Christ. But where did Paul end up? Being persecuted for his faith. Even to a long-time believer, this seems puzzling and wrong.
But Psalm 9:9-10 says, “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.”
You know the saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” It is more than a Kelly Clarkson song — it’s biblical truth.
Jesus said we would be tried and will suffer for our faith. Following Jesus isn’t easy in a world that is actively rebelling against God. God never promised that following Christ would be easy, but He does promise that it will be worth it.
Paul explains to the Ephesians that God is able to “do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). God can take our suffering and make it a perfect testament to His provision and love. What others mean for harm, He will use for our good. Because regardless of how our circumstances turn out, when God is our stronghold we experience His love in an incredibly intimate way.
Paul knew more suffering than many of us will ever experience. Paul also knew that our loving Father didn’t allow it to happen as a punishment but as an opportunity to experience His redeeming love in a brand new way.
- What’s the hardest thing you’ve been through since coming to know Jesus?
- How did God show up in that situation? What are some ways you’ve experienced Him as your stronghold?
- What is one good thing you’ve seen come from hardship?