- Ricky and I were discussing this and about "blowing it" in certain situations when we do not react with grace or grow in maturity. He kept referring to this as failing a test. But maybe that is not the best way to look at it. With tests, there are grades -- passing or failing. I think the better description for these circumstances is opportunity. With opportunities, you either take advantage or miss out. But there are always a plethora of opportunities. Test makes you think of failing, but somehow we turn that action into a state of being and begin to view ourselves as failures. Opportunity instills hope -- for change, growth, and newness.
- A number scale might help here. Although, it is an imperfect and possibly inaccurate way of looking at it. A qualitative view might be better, but my quantitative mind always chooses numbers over words! Anyway, let's put Christlikeness on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the perfect state of being only attainable once we are physically present with our Lord Jesus. So, 9 is the tops on this present earth. Let's put me at a 2-3. Now, if I die years from now and I am still at a 2-3, then I would be disappointed with myself. I would have missed out on every opportunity I have had to grow and mature (become Christlike) as I had not moved up on this scale one iota! May it not be so! I want to be at an 8-9 when I go from glory to glory. [Not to get me into Heaven, of course, because that is only accomplished by Christ's atoning sacrifice! Not by works.] I just want to take advantage of these opportunities to grow in grace. Don't you?! Either way -- whether I take advantage or not -- I thank You, Jesus, for grace in every opportunity!
- I am reading Randy Alcorn's book on evil and suffering, called If God Is Good. A great, thorough guide on this topic. I thought that some of his words aptly apply to this subject.
We need to take a closer look at a verse I've mentioned, one of the most treasured (and also maligned) in Scripture: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).
The context shows that the Holy Spirit’s main concern is conforming God’s children to the image of Christ. He brings challenging circumstances into our lives so we may develop Christlikeness.
Paul’s use of "we know" indicates that if you don’t know this, you know less than God intends you to; and when times of evil and suffering come, you’ll be ill-equipped to face them.
I believe that if God could not use something, in eternity, to contribute to the good of his child, then he will not permit it to happen. I know of no other way to interpret this passage, written in a context of profound evil and suffering. It does not say God causes some or most things to work for our good, but all things. And what does "all things" not include?
Romans 8:28 declares a cumulative and ultimate good, not an individual or immediate good...
We define our good in terms of what brings us health and happiness now; God defines it in terms of what makes us more like Jesus…
Whether suffering brings us to Christlikeness depends, to some degree, upon our willingness to submit to God and trust him and draw our strength from him. Suffering will come whether we allow it to make us Christlike or not -- but if we don't our suffering is wasted.
Join me in embracing these opportunities!