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. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son. (Romans 8:28-29)
Last week we mentioned the fact that God is big enough to use our difficulties for our own good. An obvious way He does this is to use them to help us draw closer to Him and become more like Him. One fact about the Christian life is that we grow spiritually through difficulties, and therefore, difficulties are a part of God’s plan for our life. However, since this is supposed to be “An Encouraging Word” let me add that the faster we “learn” what God is trying to teach us, the shorter and less frequent these God ordained difficulties may become. God is not punishing us, but teaching us, and in my experience, those with harder heads and harder hearts often have a harder life [Please understand that this is only one possible reason for some of our difficulties and I do not wish to imply that it is the only one].
I am reminded of Psalm 81 where God says: “If My people would listen to Me, if Israel would follow My ways, how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn My hand against their foes!” (vs. 13-14). God frequently used enemies to teach His people (read Judges). Having enemies is one of the most painful challenges we can experience.
And it is the greatest of tests as well, because Christ said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44). If we find that there is a particular person in our life that is causing us great difficulty, it may be that God is waiting for us to trust Him enough, and love them enough to treat them in this way, before He will intervene on our behalf. In other words, from God’s perspective, our real struggle may not be against a person, but with Him! Again, all of this is not because He hates us, but because He knows that Christ-likeness is more valuable than our comfort. Do we know that?