Beyond a Path of Suffering

“God’s ways are at times like heavy wagon tracks that cut deep into our souls, yet all of them are merciful.” ― Charles Haddon SpurgeonGrace God’s Unmerited Favor*

Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn. Something bad happens. And the landscape of our story changes completely. We have a new perspective, a new direction. A bad thing works for good that we did not foresee.

I have a friend who worked in an ice cream truck when he was 17 years old. That seems like a job that would have few challenges. But one day, he was robbed and beaten. The event changed the trajectory of his life.

He became a career prosecutor. He devotes his life’s work to pursuing justice for those who are robbed, beaten, cheated, or worse.

A neighbor’s grandchild was born with serious handicaps. He and his parents faced challenges most of us cannot imagine. But two of his aunts found inspiration and, because of him, became therapists.

A former student’s younger sibling was born with a genetic disorder. This student is in medical school studying to become a geneticist. She may change the life trajectory of others who suffer from similar conditions.
We Christians love to quote Romans 8:28–“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

But we sometimes neglect the following verse: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” We are creations still in the shaping process–being conformed to the image of Christ.

Most of us can look back and clearly see our turning points. We can realize now that we found our path because life changed one day. Unexpected. Unpredictable. Even unpleasant and painful.

But never without purpose.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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27 Replies to “Beyond a Path of Suffering”

  1. Nancy, I’m a proponent of making sure to read the verse before and after popular Scriptures and sometimes even the entire chapter for context. So I love how you discuss this in Romans 8. Because the truth is, we must conform to the image of Christ and love God with all. Then the good is worked out in all things.

  2. I can relate so much. After our 9 day old son died, everything changed in our lives. We had to do something to help other children and now 20 years later, we still serve God in our orphan ministry. And Romans 8:28 is my life verse for those times things seem out of control, I remember God has a plan for this too.

  3. I love this. Sometimes life hurts, but it’s never without purpose. We are constantly being shaped to look more like Jesus. Thanks for this, Nancy. I’m being stretched this week. Uncomfortably stretched, and I needed this reminder.

  4. Yes! In the midst of suffering it can be so hard to hold on to the truth that God is using this to glorify Him- we just don’t see it yet. I love how you made sure to keep Romans 8 in context to help us remember these things are to help us become more like Christ❤️

  5. My life and the lives of my family changed when I was diagnosed with breast cancer 13 years ago. Through that experience, we have been able to comfort others journeying through cancer. We’ve started cancer support groups at church, started Relay for Life teams and have been able to share our journey. Did I want cancer? No. But, I am glad for the blessings that have been found through the diagnosis and treatment. I went beyond “suffering” to be able to help others.

  6. Romans 8:22-39 is the passage upon which I camp. It has been the redeeming, uplifting, hope-filled hard truth of my life. As a child, I listened to my grandmother extol and wait on the Lord as she circled over this passage. The riches of God’s goodness, sovereignty, and providence are all wrapped into those words that we can study over and over again and yet never plumb entirely. Your examples here of how this was lived out in so many lives is a great encouragement to keep our eyes open, to look around us and, and to see the goodness that God worked out of each and every situation. Changes were made. Opinions altered. Character formed. Life trajectories turned. God’s good plan accomplished.

  7. Amen! My daughter’s depression created in me a compassion for those who suffer in this way. As a result, God laid on my heart a gift to minister to the emotional hurts of God’s people. I would not have this gift, or be able to reflect the image of Christ to those with depression without walking this road with my daughter. Often our development into the Lord’s image requires suffering and pain. But God’s purpose is for good, never for destruction.

  8. What a wonderful perspective Nancy. I definitely needed to read this today. Sometimes I cannot understand detours – moments when life changes permanently without the chance for me to get ready. Perhaps the detour was never a detour at all. Perhaps the detour was the original path…

  9. Nancy, a great reminder that God does not promise us smooth and easy paths. But rather, He does promise that He will be present in the inevitable hard moments of our lives. And because He intends all things for our good every experience, whether positive or negative, has the power to refine and transform us.

  10. Nancy,

    Wonderful post and so important for all of us to reflect upon in our lives. I have been dealing with some health issues and tightness and aches and pains. I had been meditating and praying for assistance but had no idea how it might come to me. Then I went out for breakfast and met this incredible man who is part physical therapist, part physical trainer and he immediately saw what was out of balance in my body. Today I went for a complimentary evaluation session and discovered that I can be covered for 20 sessions. In that first session, he already loosened up some of my long standing tight muscles from spending so much time sitting at the computer.
    And, the best part, I have been wanting to create a live health and healing event. He and his physical therapy partner are very interested. We can can create something wonderful locally – and I don’t have to do it all alone, as I have been used to for the past few years.
    Help comes in totally unexpected and surprising and delightful ways.


    Dr. Erica

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