The Purpose Driven Life
THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE
TRANSFORMED BY TROUBLE
God has a purpose behind every problem. He uses circumstances to develop our character. He often depends more on circumstances to make us like Jesus than He depends on our reading and following the Bible. The reason is that you are faced with circumstances twenty-four hours a day. No one is immune to pain and nobody is insulated from suffering, and no one goes through life problem-free.
Life is a series of problems, every time you solve one, another is waiting. Not all problems are big, but all are significant in God’s growth process for you. 1 Peter 4:12 says, “Don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” God uses problems to draw you closer to Him. Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
Your most profound experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days, when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when the pain is great, and you turn to God alone. It is during suffering that we learn to pray our most heartfelt prayers. When we are in pain we don’t have the energy for superficial prayers. We learn things about God in suffering that we cannot learn any other way.
God could have kept Joseph out of jail, kept Daniel out of the lion’s den, kept Jeremiah from being tossed into a slimy dungeon, kept Paul from being shipwrecked three times, and kept the three Hebrew young men from being thrown into the blazing furnace, but He didn’t. God let those problems happen, and every one of those persons was drawn closer to God as a result. Problems force us to depend on God instead of ourselves.
2 Corinthians 1:8-9 says, “We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9 In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.” You will never know that God is all that you need until God is all that you have. Regardless of the cause, none of your problems happen without His permission.
Everything that happens to a child of God is filtered by God the Father, and He intends to use it for good even though Satan and others mean it for bad. And because God is sovereign and in control over everything, accidents are just incidents in God’s good plan for you. Psalm 139:16 says, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”
Do you know that everything that happens to you has spiritual significance? Romans 8:28-29 explains why, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and He chose them to become like his Son.” It does not say that God causes everything to work out the way I want to.
Often these verses are misunderstood. It also does not say that God causes everything to work out for a happy ending. We live in a fallen world. It does say that God is in complete control. And that our lives are not a result of random chance, fate or luck. God has a plan and He never makes a mistake. God’s plan for oyur life includes all that happens to you. It includes illness, disasters, divorce and death.
But God can bring good out of the worst evil. And all these events work together in God’s plan to make you like Christ. This does not mean that everything in life is good. In the family tree of Jesus are four women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. Tamar seduced her father-in-law, Rahab was a prostitute, Ruth was not Jewish and Bathsheba committed adultery, but God brought Jesus through their lineage.
But this promise is only for God’s children, not for everyone. All things work for bad for those living against God and insisting on having their own way. Everything God allows to happen in your life is permitted so that you become more like Jesus. We are like jewels which are shaped with the hammer and chisel of adversity. If a hammer is not strong enough to chip off our rough edges, He will use a sledgehammer.
Every problem is a character building opportunity, and the more difficult it is, the greater the potential for building spiritual muscle. Romans 5:3-4 says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character.” Your circumstances are temporary, but your character will last forever.
James 1:3 says, “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” Since God intends to make you like Jesus, He will take you through some of the same experiences that Jesus went through. That includes temptation, stress, criticism, false accusations, rejection and many other problems. Hebrews 5:8 says, “Jesus learned obedience from the things He suffered.”
Romans 8:17 says, “Together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” Problems do not automatically produce what God intends. Many people become bitter rather than better and never grow up spiritually. Joseph understood this truth when he told his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.”
Whenever God says no to your request for relief, remember Hebrews 12:10, “But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in His holiness.” Stay focused on God’s plan, not your pain or your problem. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame.”
Your focus determines your feelings. The secret of endurance is to remember that your pain is temporary but your reward will be eternal. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” Romans 8:18 says, “What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.”
Be patient and persistent. James 1:3-4 says, “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” Character building is a slow process. You know you are maturing when you begin to see the hand of God in the random, and seemingly pointless circumstances of life.
Hebrews 10:36 says, “Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” If you are facing troubles right now, don’t ask why me? Instead ask God, “What do you want me to learn?” The trust God and keep on doing what is right. Don’t give up, continue to grow up. Remember there is a spiritual purpose behind every problem.