And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
I used to work with someone who thought that those who believed in a higher power were just too weak to make it on their own. He subscribed to the idea that faith is a crutch, especially a faith like Christianity which professes to absolve us of our sins and promises an eternity of perfect existence. He pictured church as a place where we pat one another on the back and disingenuously tell each other how great life is. I was only a new Christian when we started working together, but I already had seen enough to know that this faith would not be easy. I often felt like I had a target on my back, and my conversations with my coworker solidified that feeling. Simply having faith brought opposition and controversy even if I was silent about it.
When I read these verses, I feel like they serve to soften the blow of our Christian calling, which is to suffer along with Christ and sacrifice ourselves for his sake. We are told that we will suffer, be persecuted, be hated and perhaps even die because we have chosen him. That seems like such a departure from the joy and favor that we are to expect as children of God, but this passage brings it all together for me. No matter how it looks, whether joy or pain, whether popularity or persecution, whether abundance or need, God means all of it for our benefit. He has planned nothing for the sole purpose of bringing us to a lowly place without it then raising us up to glory. The end result here is promised. Our destiny is to be glorified then even if we must be afflicted now.
I try to view everything in light of eternity. When this world is dark and cold, I remember that an eternal light of glorious warmth awaits me. When this life is awesome, and I feel like it just cannot get any better, I glory in the fact that God has something infinitely more pleasing ahead. Nothing here is so great, so painful, so beautiful, so ugly as to change the promise of God to work it all out in our favor. It glorifies him to glorify us in this way. We take the days as they come knowing that God has destined for us to come out the winners in the end. It is all purposeful, all beneficial for the progress of this faith. Father, thank You for using all things for our good and abundantly pouring your mercy over us.