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.

Reflect:

  • 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?


July 9, 2019

Devotionals From This Study

to Discover More

Session 1

What are you building your life on?

People-pleasing is an addiction of sorts. It starts with a craving for approval. Once we’ve experienced the applause and approval of men,...

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Session 2

Are you living like you’ve been made new?

Pop psychology says we can overcome our problems and be a better version of ourselves. If you’ve ever tried that, you know it’s exhaustin...

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Session 3

Rules are easier, but a relationship is better

It’s easy to read Paul’s letter and wonder why people would turn back to the law. Why willing submit to keeping all 613 commandments of t...

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Session 4

It’s good to be a child of God

Ever notice how kids seem to fall asleep faster when mom or dad is in the room? The monster under the bed has nothing on mom or dad. And ...

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Session 5

What if freedom isn’t what you think it is?

Ever noticed how hard it can be to share an umbrella? A step too fast or a step too slow, and you’re left out in the rain. Pull too hard ...

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Session 6

Where to turn when your heart grows weary

Desperation can lead us to do things we’d never imagine. When the pain is overwhelming, the pill doesn’t look so bad. When our debt is cr...

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Session 7

What happens when knowing God becomes the reason we pray

Think about the last time someone was unexpectedly generous toward you. When a coworker drops everything to join you in the waiting room,...

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Session 8

Awe is the best motivation for action

Have you ever tried to collect payment from a dead man? It’s near impossible. Unless someone steps in to cover the bill, you’re out whate...

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Session 9

Good things can come from hard times

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 good...

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Session 10

What it means to be a member of God’s family

When we ask Jesus into our lives, we become a part of His family forever. The same way that an adopted child takes on all the rights and ...

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Session 11

You are the light in the darkness

Remember the song “This Little Light of Mine”? Although simple, the song’s lyrics are packed with truth. When we find life in Christ, we ...

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Session 12

You’re not fighting a losing battle

You could look at the state of society and lament that “everything’s going to hell in a handbasket.”Sometimes, it seems as if lies flouri...

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Session 13

You can experience freedom in suffering

None of us are exempt from suffering. Just because we follow Jesus does not mean we are immune to hurt, doubt, and pain. The difference b...

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Session 14

You’re at your most powerful when you humble yourself

Psalm 14 describes the person who takes advantage of others as a fool. The fool stops seeking God’s will because he thinks he knows what’...

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Session 15

The power to defeat sin is in you but not of you

We often find ourselves in a battle between what our flesh wants and what God wants for us. So we try harder. We make more rules. We come...

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Session 16

Where we go to find joy in any circumstance

Every romantic comedy has a moment where the guy tells something along these lines:"I’ll be fine as long as I have you."It’s a sweet sent...

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Session 17

Learn to see yourself as God sees you

Before Jesus set us free from sin and death, we were alienated from God. The chasm between us was too much to overcome on our own.This es...

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Session 18

How to stand strong when trouble comes your way

When planted, the seed has to break or die. It’s impossible for a seed to become a beautiful flower or delicious vegetable without breaki...

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Session 19

We don’t have to wait for eternity

Summer sunsets are the best. As the light slowly fades, brilliant oranges and bold reds paint the sky with color and texture that’s hard ...

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Session 20

Well-Seasoned

How many times have you done it?  You’ve responded a little too curtly to an innocent question. You’ve been short with the store clerk j...

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Session 21

Packed with Purpose

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thes. 5:16–18) ...

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Session 22

He’s Returning. Live Like It!

He’s Returning. Live Like It! Throughout this short book, you will see the underlying theme of Jesus’ second coming. When Paul wrote 2 Th...

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Session 23

Love Is All You Need

Do you love Jesus? Are you focused on becoming like him? Only then do you know the Truth and are able to share the Truth about him. The ...

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Session 24

Living on a Prayer

Paul’s advice to Timothy in this chapter reminds us of God’s sovereignty and God’s sometimes mysterious purpose. At a time when Christia...

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Session 25

Training for Battle

When we think of Jesus, we think of the freedom God has given us to live in his love. What we don’t often do is think of the discipline i...

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Session 26

Out of This World!

The cross of Christ turns “the world” and what it values upside down. The Bible tells us that without Christ, those who consider themselv...

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Session 27

It’s Who You Know, Not What You Know

If someone asked you, “What’s the most important thing you want to do before you die?” how would you answer? Spend more time with my chil...

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Session 28

Livin’ by the Good Book

I’ve always been puzzled by those BIG family Bibles. You know, the ones that weigh 40 pounds and sit on a coffee table? We had one when ...

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Session 29

Soundness or Sickness?

As the early Church rapidly grew, Paul spent much of his time writing to younger leaders to encourage, equip, correct and impart wisdom t...

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Session 30

Useless Without the Gospel

Philemon might seem like an odd book to include in the Bible—it’s only one chapter, 25 verses of a very personal letter from Paul to Phil...

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