1 Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, 4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. 5 This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. 8 But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 How much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by his blood, will we be saved through him from wrath. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation.
Just over three and half years ago, I was diagnosed with a chronic cough. In all fairness, the diagnosis would come much later. When it began, I was told medicine would correct it. It didn’t. So began a journey involving a multitude of doctors and specialists, and now, years later, it’s still something I struggle with daily.
A year or so into the journey, a friend recommended a book on suffering and finding hope in the midst of struggle. While the author made several good points, one thought especially continues to resonate with me. The question is not, “Why?” The question is, “For what purpose?”
I don’t want this to be about sympathy. I want this to be about God’s purpose for this season, even if it is something I don’t have the ability to recognize just yet. While it is both difficult and challenging to endure the battles we face on a day-to-day basis, there is a God-designed intentionality behind it. The process of being perfected through our times of difficulty is the most beautiful picture of being refined more into the image of God.
Granted, it never feels like it during the day-to-day. It’s only in looking back that we see the progression Paul talks about: suffering producing perseverance, perseverance producing character, character producing hope, and hope not disappointing us. Our hope results in a faith that bears the image of God in all circumstances. Simply put, hope trusts God’s promises.
So often in our relationship with God, it is all about timing—being in the right place at the right time and being prepared to do God’s work. While that is our ultimate goal, we as individuals continually miss the mark. Even in those moments when we do fall short, we serve a God who loved us enough to send His own Son to die on a cross on our behalf. Through God’s love and mercy we receive reconciliation though the person of Jesus, and by our pursuit of Him we are made whole. There is no greater love than that.
The processes of our day-to-day struggles are the refinement of our faith. Be prepared and even expect to be crafted more into the image of God in your daily life. It will never be at an opportune time. It will come in the middle of traffic, the aisle at the grocery store, or sitting in a doctor’s office. Through these moments we remember joy is rooted in our relationship with Jesus, not in our circumstance. For with every step we take, the Holy Spirit guides us, as we are continually perfected into the image of God.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- What struggle is God walking you through today?
- How are you being refined more into the image of God?
- How will you rely on God’s past promises to bring you joy today?