“We are 100 percent certain to suffer, and Christ is 100 percent certain to meet us, to come for us, and restore love’s purest joys.” David Powlison

What would we do without Romans 8:28 and Genesis 50:20? In the hands of pressured believers, they become divine weapons to meet and defeat life’s greatest assaults on our faith and joy in Jesus Christ.

In the right hand we have Romans 8:28: “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.” It is only a matter of time before we will experience suffering so painful and devastating that our faith in the love of God will be shaken. Betrayal by a loved one, the tragic death of a friend, the loss of a job, the news of a life threatening disease, all can cause us to rethink or re-evaluate our faith in God. But this passage rides in to the rescue. Paul declares that for those who love God and are called according to his purpose, the worst of tragedies, the darkest of days, and the greatest of suffering will be turned for our good by our all-powerful and all-loving God. When nothing seems to make sense, we have that truth to cling to. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is ours in Christ Jesus our Lord. Nothing!



In the left hand we have Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Here we find Joseph speaking to his brothers after thirteen years of a roller coaster existence. He was given a great dream, but instead of a direct path to glory he is betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt. When he does what is right and flees seduction, he ends up in prison; when he correctly interprets a dream, he is forgotten by the one he helped. In every situation we see Joseph consistently doing what is right, but his dream is left unfulfilled. It is significant to know that in all of the ups and downs of his life, we never hear that God has deserted him or is unhappy with his choices.

In Genesis 50, God has worked everything for his good. Now, as second in the land of Egypt, he sits before the very ones who robbed him of thirteen years of his life by their hate and treachery. But, instead of taking revenge, he makes an absolutely incredible statement” “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…” This was not an incident where God looked down from heaven and saw that the brothers were messing with his plan, so he intervened. No, the language is clear. God designed the circumstances where the brothers would do evil against Joseph, but God would use their evil to bring about good, not only for Joseph, but for his whole family and nation. The point: God permits and uses the worst that evil can muster to bring about our good and his glory. That is the hope we find in the other weapon of truth.

These past two weeks have been some of the toughest times of my life. Following the surgery on my foot, the doctor gave me four different prescriptions to help me deal with pain, muscle spasms and nausea. The first couple of days I was out of it and have little memory of what planet I was on. But, about four days into the recovery, I began to experience great anxiety and pressure. It got so bad that I could not stand still or sleep. I would get on my scooter and lay tracks around the house, hoping that something would happen to give me relief. I had never experienced anything like that before. I knew the source. It was the drugs. So, I stopped them and decided to fight the pain and the anxiety without the meds.            

On the Tuesday after my operation, I was sitting alone in the middle of the night. I felt like I was coming out of my skin. I quoted scripture. I prayed. But, nothing relieved me of the angst I was enduring. Then, I cried to the Lord. I said, “Lord this makes no sense. What possible good can come out of this? I am so out of control. Help me!” And, in the midst of the confusion, still feeling the anxiousness, the thought came to me: “No matter how you feel; no matter how desperate your situation, I am in control. I will use even this to bring glory to my name and good to your soul.”

Why does God choose to use such drastic measures upon the ones He has chosen? I am reminded of the saintly Teresa of Avila, who after being jostled from her carriage said to God, “If this is the way you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few of them.” I think many of us have had times when we felt the same way. It is shocking at times to see how the Lord works in the lives of his friends. I think it is also true, that the ones who seem to know God best are the ones who are most acquainted with sorrow and grief.  I have never heard anyone testify, “I made my greatest advances in holiness on the happiest days of my life.” No, it is in the hardest of days and the darkest of nights that the glory of Christ shines the brightest.  

Romans 8:28 and Genesis 50:20 lay out two awesome principles. 1] No matter how troubling life becomes, it is never hopeless; and, 2] No matter how confusing life looks, there is always a divine purpose.

God is sovereign over all powers. He not only created this world but he is bearing and directing it to its final destination. [Hebrews 1:3] He has created, called and redeemed you and me and has one intention for our lives: that we might be conformed into the image of his Son, Jesus Christ. [Romans 8:29] In other words, he is working through “all things” to birth within us the same joy and delight that Jesus displayed in loving and obeying the Father- in the midst of great suffering. Heb 5:8-9 tells us, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered.” It does not mean that he went from disobedience to obedience, for he was without sin. It means that he demonstrated deeper and deeper levels of obedience as the sufferings increased. 

Why then do we suffer? First, it needs to be pointed out that for most of us life is not deep suffering. Life is generally good. We will always have tribulations and struggles because we live in a fallen world. That is why we are called to be self-controlled and alert [1 Peter 5:8]. But, when suffering intensifies and the pain increases we can be assured that God is doing a special work in our lives. Perhaps he is cutting the root of some favorite sin in our lives. Or, maybe he is preparing us for greater ministry in the lives of others. But whatever the specific intent of God’s working through pain, you can be assured that he has one over-riding purpose: to open the eyes of our hearts to the glory that is in the face of Jesus Christ.   

That is the sense of Jesus words to us in Matt 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” We are created and called to know the rest that is only found in coming to Jesus. At the cross, he demonstrated that he was Lord over sin, suffering and death. Although we are called to walk the same path he did, he will turn all things for our good and his glory. You have his word on it.

We are not dealing with “hope so” but with certainties. Just as “We are 100 percent certain to suffer,” we also know that “Christ is 100 percent certain to meet us, to come for us, and restore love’s purest joys.” May you come to know the glory of God in the midst of your struggles. He is great! He is good! Let us be thankful for all that he will do in us and through us in the days ahead.