We are more inclined to believe and enjoy and be satisfied with God’s sovereignty when we are in favorable circumstances.
But what about when circumstances seem to be against us, when we are in difficulty, suffering, and even persecution? What then? What will we believe and cling to then? What will be our joy then?
We will believe that God is working good (our transformation and sanctification) in those very difficulties. And we will hold on to these realities (some of the following are adapted from Martyn Lloyd-Jones):
- God is working good in all my circumstances, but His good is often different from my good. Just because something does not meet my criteria of what is good does not mean that it is not ultimately good and beneficial.
- God is interested in my Christlikeness, not my ease and simplicity of life.
- If I trust God in my trouble, life may not become easier, but I will be more satisfied both with God and my life circumstances.
- God is working all things together for my good and His glory.
- God not only works trouble for good in my life, but He works trouble in my life for saving and sanctifying good in the lives of others. The good of my trials is then multiplied and expanded!
- Trouble in my life will often be used by God to reveal my over-dependence on circumstances and people.
- Trials, particularly ones related to health and life and death, remind me of the fleeting nature of life on earth. They also make me to cling to the glories that are to come (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
- Difficulties make me examine my motives — do I live to please the Lord in every circumstance, or am I more interested in pleasing myself (2 Cor. 5:9; Eph. 5:10).
- The great crises of life demonstrate my weaknesses, helplessness, and lack of power — and the gracious sufficiency of God’s power (2 Cor. 12:9ff).
- Hard times and failure make me wholly dependent on the Lord and remove conceptions of self-sufficiency in me.
As Martyn Lloyd-Jones summarized in a sermon series given to his church in London in preparation of the advance of the Nazi army in World War II:
…we can say that there is no school in which Christians have learned so much of the loving, tender care of God for His own, as the school of affliction. While all is well with us, in our self-satisfaction and self-contentment, we shut God out of our lives; we do not allow Him to reveal to us His solicitude for us even in the details of our lives.
All things do indeed work for good in the life of the believer, because of the graciously sovereign hand of God.