God is shaping us to be like His Son Jesus. “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good…For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” (Romans 8:28,29). What are some tools God uses to make this happen?
THE CHISEL OF IMPERFECT PARENTS.
God didn’t give parents a trial run before the real thing. Parents are thrust into this daunting task of raising up godly children with no trial run and no detailed manual. The way they learn how to raise kids is to HAVE kids. On-the-job training. None of us grew up in a family with parents who really knew what they were doing. They were experimenting, doing the best they could–hopefully. We were their assignments.
THE SANDPAPER OF SIBLING RIVALRIES.
People we grow up with will change our lives–for better or for worse. The tension that shows up in the Bible with brothers and sisters (Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Mary and Martha–to name a few) demonstrate the potential of siblings to compete with one another. Trust God to use siblings–even through the hardships.
THE DRILL OF A DIFFICULT MARRIAGE.
Marriage is a killer. God uses it to sanctify us. When I got married, I tried to get Karen to be more like me. Dumb idea. I learned (very slowly) that I needed to die to myself to properly serve her. I am embarrassed that it took me so long to learn. Now we are both working on being unoffendable. Great goal–difficult to pull off, but when even embraced in part, it enables us to walk together and serve one another. Marriage is no piece of cake–but it is God’s idea and oh how rewarding!
THE HAMMER OF AN OVERBEARING BOSS.
The answer some have for a difficult boss is to go to human resources. God has another idea. It’s called suffering. “Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly” (I Peter 2:18,19). Good things happen when people learn to accept the hardship of a cranky boss. Peter says, “This is a gracious thing in the sight of God” (20). Jesus not only suffered for us, but he suffered to show us how we can go through suffering as well–keeping our mouth shut, our heart open, and our conscience clear.
THE WRENCH OF PERSONAL FAILURE.
Which hurts more, the failures of others or our failures? Ask Peter. He thought he was finished after defecting. He wimped out under the pressure of a servant girl. Not close to what he had vowed to Christ. He knows it’s all over. But a meeting with the resurrected Christ not to rebuke him but to reinstate him changed his future. There’s a place for failures in the kingdom of God.
I remember when Dan, my partner in ministry, said, “Nothing is wasted.” God’s toolbox proves it. Pain has a purpose. He is doing a good work in you! (If you want to receive my monthly newsletter to pray for us, send me your email: firstname.lastname@example.org