Yesterday we continued our study in chapter twelve in the book of Hebrews. In verse seven the author says, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as children.” (NIV) I noted as Christians we have the option of seeing our hardships as tools God uses to form holiness in our life. The early Christians did not see a conflict between the promises they held in Christ and the hardship they were experiencing. Rather, they saw God using the hardship to bring those promises into reality.
This is not the only view we can take of our hardships scripturally. There are at least two more reasons why God allows adversity. I did not have time to share them yesterday so I thought I would follow up briefly here.
First, God can allow hardship in our life for His glory. We see two accounts of this in the Gospel of John. In John chapter nine, we see Jesus healing a blind man. In the story, Jesus explains the reason God allowed the blindness, “This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” John 9:4.
In John 11, we see Jesus’ good friend Lazarus become deathly sick. When Jesus’ learns of the problem he says, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4) God could be using your hardship to bring glory to his name.
Doesn’t that sound quite selfish of God? Actually, there is whole theology behind why God is committed to his glory, and selfishness is not the answer, but when you consider the second reason how God uses hardship in our life the “glory” reason becomes clearer. God often uses our suffering to bring people into a relationship with him.
In 1 Peter 4 it says, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” The hard part was Jesus dying and suffering on the cross for our sin. It was through Christ’s suffering that we are saved. It is through the shedding of his blood that are sins are forgiven.
In Romans 6 it says we have been united in Christ in his death. (Romans 6:5). God used his Son’s suffering as the pathway to save mankind. Likewise, God will use our hardship, our adversity, our suffering, to help people start a relationship with Jesus Christ. We often like to believe that God will use our victories but in reality he uses our suffering. When you hear a testimony what part of the testimony do you connect with the most? We connect with the struggle and how despite the struggle faith in God wins out.
God can be using your hardship to discipline you, to win someone to the faith, or to bring Glory to his name.