I know, O Lord…that in faithfulness you have afflicted me (PS 119.75)
A young man named Nathan from our church joined the Army a couple years ago, his goal to be in the Special Forces. When he went into SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Training – essentially POW Training) he had to sign a release that they could break a couple of his bones. Nathan could accept this affliction because he understood the purpose of it – to make him into a Special Forces soldier.
Believers can be content under affliction when we know God’s purpose in affliction: To make us like Christ.
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. RO 8.29-30
God predestined those he chose for this glorious end: “to be conformed to the image of his Son.” To be like Christ. To have Christ completely formed in them. Another way of putting it is to be “glorified.”
God uses many things to conform us to Jesus – his Word, the Spirit, fellowship, prayer. And in his providence, he also uses persecution, sickness, loneliness, and financial trials to name a few. In other words, sometimes he must break our bones. He breaks our bones of pride, self-sufficiency, unbelief and selfishness. But when he does break our bones, he heals us as well, and in the end we’re more like Christ.
If there were no purpose to our suffering it would be meaningless. Aren’t you glad that God’s purpose to make us like his Son will make it all worthwhile in the end?
photo by bartheq