For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
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, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
A few years back, I received a fortune cookie which read “God will give you everything you want.” There are times when I get tired of hearing the two verses listed above, because many people quote them to mean the same thing my fortune cookie said that day… “God is a magical all-powerful genie … use Him wisely and all your dreams will come true.”
My friends, the Holy, Sovereign, Creator God is not our puppet who simply exists to do what we desire and to answer all our requests for comfortable lives and fancy posessions. Romans 8 states that God predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son… Jesus Christ. His Son, who confronted a world of hostility and hatred with the powerful truths of the gospel. His Son who came to serve, not to be served. His Son who suffered and died to bring life.
The Christian life is not about getting what you want; rather, it is about taking up your cross daily (Matthew 16:24-25), dying to your selfish desires and living for the glory of the Sovereign God who created you, sustains you and is working in you. The promise that all things work together for good is meant to remind us of the sovereignty of God over all things. It reminds us that even in situations we would never choose or desire, God is working. It reminds us that the God who declared us to be just, righteous and cleansed, is working to sanctify us. And this is the God who will complete the work in us.
The comfort in these verses is found in the God who is at work, not in the absence of pain or suffering. Our comfort and hope must come from who God is, not in the gifts He gives. We can be confident that, even in trials, that God’s desire is not to harm us as we look to the cross and see His love displayed.
My heart is broken by the world’s idea that if you follow God you experience no hardship or trouble. God is glorified most when His children run to Him, desperate for some hope to cling to when life falls apart around them. He receives much glory when we say, “though it will cost me everything, I will follow you.”
Let us find comfort in God, not in prosperity. This world is not our home. We have the promise that through every step, the Spirit of God himself will sustain us. All things work for good – all things – even pain, loneliness, heartache, sickness, disease, famine and poverty – for we have a gift in Jesus Christ that is of much greater worth than anything this world has to offer!