Among the women I know well, I have seen the tragedies of divorce, the death of loved ones, broken family relationships, unemployment, cancer, chronic pain, suicide attempts, loneliness, and depression—just to name a few. Difficulties and heartache abound everywhere I turn. But, life also gets hard right here. Personally, I have faced financial hardships, infertility, separation from family by thousands of miles, multiple moves, physical ailments, broken friendships, the never-ending exhaustion of motherhood, and my own internal struggles with anger, discontentment, and guilt. Like I said, it can get rather ugly.
I’ll never forget one of those “ugly” times in particular. It was during our seminary years. The strain of graduate school, financial struggles, secondary infertility, and complete exhaustion had taken their toll. I found myself in our small seminary-housing apartment bathroom desperately asking, deep in my soul, “Is God good?”
The question scared me to my core—not because I asked it, but because honestly, for the first time, I did not know the answer. And, if I had been forced to choose an answer that very moment, I probably would have shaken a defiant, angry fist at the sky and screamed, “NO!”
The question I raise today is really the same question I asked that frightening morning several years ago. “Is God trustworthy in my suffering?” “Is God trustworthy in your suffering?”
In the Scriptures, suffering in this life is assumed. Trials are inevitable, and if your life is like mine, it can attest to that reality. But, there is also another reality that shines gloriously above the dark clouds of experience, and it is this: God is completely trustworthy in our suffering.
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 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. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1. God is Committed to You (Romans 8:28-31). God is committed to working all things together for your good. In God’s providential care, He is orchestrating all the details of your life in order to bring about what He knows is good for you now and for all eternity. He is accomplishing His purposes for you from pre-history to post-history—from predestining you to be His child to glorifying you in his eternal Kingdom. You are His. You are part of His grand plan, and His plan will not fail. He is completely devoted to seeing you through from the beginning to the end. Verses 29-30 are not merely abstract theology about how God saves people, but rather they are the practical answer to your present sufferings: Since God works out everything pertaining to your salvation from beginning to end, then you can also trust Him without reservation to be committed to care for you in the details of your suffering.
2. God is Generous to You (Romans 8:32) God did not withhold His Son, Jesus Christ, from you. He did not bar Him from humbling Himself as a human being to walk this earth and to endure the punishment for your sin. Rather, the Father purposely and lavishly gave His Son as your substitute to receive the wrath that you deserve for your sin. Your greatest need is reconciliation to a holy God, and that same holy God met that need. Regardless of the seriousness of your situation, all other needs truly pale in comparison to your need for salvation. Since He generously gave His Son for your redemption, then you can also trust Him to generously provide for all your needs in your present suffering.
3. God is Gracious to You (Romans 8:33-36) As a Christian, you are no longer condemned for your sin, but you have received God’s gift of grace. You have been set free from the law of sin and death because of Jesus’ atonement for you, and there is no one left to condemn you. His grace to you is seen in his death, resurrection, exaltation, and intercession on your behalf. As a believer undergoing trials, even your sins of doubting and complaining have already been covered by the atoning work of Christ. The desperate questions of your frail heart do not cut you off from the infinite grace that forgives and sustains you. Since God is gracious to you in your salvation, you can also trust Him to be gracious, forgiving, and merciful to you in your weakness as you encounter suffering.
4. God is Bound to You (Romans 8: 35-39) Can anyone separate you from the love of Christ? No. Can anything separate you from the love of God? No. Trials? Hardship? Persecution? Need? Danger? Evil? Enemies? Space? Death? Any created thing? Anything at all? NO. Although you face suffering “like a sheep to be slaughtered,” He has made you a victorious conqueror to prevail and persevere through trials until the end. The victory is not yours. It is His, and you share it with Him because you are bound to Him by His love. It is He who guards, protects, and keeps you. His love for you cannot be diminished or severed.
The argument of Romans 8 is from the greater to the lesser: Since God is absolutely trustworthy in all aspects of your salvation, you can wholeheartedly trust Him in your present suffering. If He is trustworthy in the big thing, then He is trustworthy in the small things. The promises of God for your salvation in the past, present, and future, are guaranteed, and so you can trust in His promises that He cares for you even now. “Is God trustworthy in your suffering?” The answer is a resounding and eternal “YES.”
To learn about the good news of salvation in Christ, please click HERE.