God miraculously but certainly places His glory in your life and leaves an eternal deposit of all that He is inside of you. We have erroneously assumed that "good" is what replaces "bad" with circumstances such as health, happiness and pleasure.
However, God defines "good" as what makes you and me more like Jesus.
"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them" (Rom. 8:28, NLT).
Romans 8:28 is our go-to verse whenever we encounter circumstances that we don't like and would not choose. But to fully understand the ultimate good that God is able to produce, we must read on in this passage of scripture.
"For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters" (Rom. 8:29, NLT).
God is well able to take what is perceived as bitter by itself and turn it into a revolutionary force in one's life that transforms anyone into possessing the character of Jesus. God delights in taking the things that have roared painfully through your life with the force of a hurricane and use those exact events to make you think and act and emote like Jesus.
The enemy wants to destroy you with problems, challenges and storms, but God intends to turn you into the representation of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is your elder brother, and it is time for you to start acting like Him! He came to be the "show and tell" of how to live well, how to live powerfully and how to live in the goodness of God the Father.
God often delivers His children out of suffering and tragedy, but He always protects us by shielding us with His goodness. Everything that comes into your life is filtered through the Father's ultimate goodness. You can rest assured that nothing will touch your life that He does not allow and that He will not work for your good.
Only a good, all-powerful God is able to take what is incredibly bad and miraculously turn it into something incredibly good. Every tragic event and disappointing experience that a believer goes through this side of heaven should have one purpose and one purpose alone: to make each one of us more like Jesus!
"Why do I have to go through this?" you might ask. God is using the process of life to turn you into something more beautiful than you could ever be without it, and into a productive member of the kingdom of God.
God's plan is to use you, and He is unable to do so when you stubbornly remain in the beginning stages of the process. God's ways will always refine and define a child who is willing to be turned into someone usable for Christ and His kingdom.
As 21st-century Western believers, we have embraced words such as productive, purpose and prosperous. However, all three of those "powerful" words are dependent upon God's "process" in the life of a Christian.
"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you" (Isa. 43:2, NLT).
Often, the process that God takes one of His children through involves fire. Not one of us enjoys the fire, and all of us may scream and wiggle and complain presuming that we might be able to avoid the fires of life. However, even in the fire God is refining, defining and preparing each one of us for a purpose in His unshakable kingdom! There is a way we can go through the fire and not even have the residue of smoke rest upon us. There is a way to be in the fire but not of the fire!
I must admit, I have experienced a fire or two in my lifetime, and often I have indeed come out smelling like smoke. After spending time in the "furnace of great affliction," often I come out as a charred remnant of my former self. But that is because when I was in the fire, I was determined to have my own way and not God's way.
I have painfully discovered that when you go through any fire in life guided by the principles found only in the Word of God, you will be able to encounter the hottest flames that life has to offer and still not smell like smoke.
Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written 12 books, including No More Ordinary, Holy Estrogen!, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart, Defiant Joy! and Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire. Her teaching DVD The Rooms of a Woman's Heart won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming.
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