Many people think that Christianity promises that God has a perfect plan for your life. In a way yes and in a way no. Yes, as a believer and a child of God He has a perfect plan for you which is eternal life with Him. But this plan does not always mean you will have anything good in this life. This life may be full of hardship and struggle with no noticed blessing.
You may realize I said noticed blessing and not no blessing. Life is more than money, prosperity, comfort, popularity, or many other things like that. So just because you may not notice a blessing in your life does not mean there is not a blessing. Too many believers are seeking promises from God that are not theirs to have. Too many are seeking blessings in their lives that are not their blessings. This has led many to falter and doubt God because they have not received these promises or blessings.
Let us examine Romans 8:28-29. In these verses, many believers take this to be saying that in everything bad there is a good that comes from it for them. This is not what this is saying. Let me explain by quoting the full text, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 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.”
This does not promise that the individual person will receive this good. It just says that all things work together for good. For good is the Good. What God’s intended purpose is for us as His. That we are conformed to the image of His Son. It is not saying in every cloud is a silver lining. It is not saying we will always come out of struggles with a joyous and happy good from it. We may come out of some struggles and be worse off than when the struggle started.
Many men and women of the faith have been beaten and imprisoned for the faith. Many have lived in poverty and filth only to die at the hands of a terrorist. Many have never had comfort or peace but only suffering and struggle. Some things in life are just difficult and hard to deal with. But thinking that there is something good in it for you is not a good response to have. I say this not only because I do not think Scripture teaches this but also because when the good does not show, you may begin to question God.
Good can be that people many years down the road see your faith in these trying and difficult situations. It could also be that while you are struggling you keep the faith and stand fast regardless of what happens and someone sees this and begins to wonder who this God you worship is. Someone may very well come to faith in Jesus because you stood and had joy regardless of the situation. They saw the conformed image of the Son in you and knew there must be more to Christianity than they ever thought before. The good may very well be something that happens a hundred or more years after you have died. We just do not know for certain what impact our steadfastness in trials and struggles will have for the good.
It is this that is the good though that all things are worked towards by the Lord. We see this in verse 18 when Paul wrote, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18). This and the following commentary of the creation and all in it being subjected to futility and grief. So, to think that the good is something in our personal life is not a good way to view life. I am not saying that sometimes the good may take form in the here and now. No, I am saying that we must think beyond ourselves and be willing to suffer and not expect something good now. That is not what is meant nor is it what is happening.
We live here serving God seeking to glorify Him in all we do. That is what we are to do. Thinking that every bad incident will bring us good is just not healthy. We need to always praise God in our sufferings because they teach us patience, give character, and hope (Rom. 5:3-5; Jas. 1:2-4; 1Pet. 3-9). In all these texts we see that trials and struggles make us more like Christ, just as Romans 8:29 says. It does not say we receive good but a better character, hope, and purification by the testing. This is the good we receive. It is not bad happening and then something we consider good popping up for us. No, the good is the perfecting of us for the glory of God by being conformed to Christ. It is just like what the apostle Paul experienced with the thorn in the flesh.
This is found in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Paul pleads with God to remove this from him. God did not. He left it and told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (v. 9). That is the good we receive in the bad things that happen. We are conformed to the image of Christ, have character and hope developed in us, we are being perfected, and resting in the perfect grace of the Lord for us and letting Him work through us. His power is made perfect in our weaknesses and frailties. This is the good that comes from struggles.
We need to know the struggle is real and it is hard. We need to know we are not alone in the struggle (e.g. John 14:16). But we need to know also, that we may never see the good that comes from the struggles we face. We may never know this side of heaven the impact our faithful life had on untold numbers of people. So, stand fast and stay faithful because in all this God is conforming you to the image of Christ and perfecting His power in your weakness.