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Monday, March 31, 2008

Let's Make a Deal?

I miss the TV show, “Let’s Make a Deal.” I found it to be entertaining and suspenseful. Whenever the show’s host, Monty Hall, offered a contestant a surprise in exchange for whatever the contestant had brought to the studio or had already won on the show, I could only guess the outcome. The suspense really built near the show’s end, when Monty offered the big winner a choice of what was behind Curtain 1, Curtain 2, or Curtain 3. The big winner knew a valuable prize—perhaps a new car—lay behind one of those curtains. He or she also knew that a zonk, a disappointing prize, lay behind another. Once the choice was made, the curtain rose, revealing either a super prize—a new car, or a boat, or an entertainment unit, or a fabulous vacation package—or a zonk—perhaps a pile of used tires, or a goat, or a tricycle.

If each of us could choose to make a deal with God, offering Him very little in exchange for material wealth and possessions, would we have to think long and hard about striking the deal? Probably not. But we can’t see what God has in store for us. The curtain is closed. However, when it rises, it may reveal what we perceive to be a zonk—something we really don’t want. Nevertheless, we may find in the long run that God has given us a priceless treasure.

For example, who would intentionally choose prolonged illness, financial setback, the loss of a loved one or friend, physical pain, emotional stress, or a nagging boss, if he or she were given a choice? Yet, God delights to turn “zonks” like these into growth experiences. Our faith develops and matures when trials strike it hard. Like a hammer striking metal on an anvil, our faith takes the shape God wants it to have. In the end it emerges durable and effective, and we discover that we are richer for having experienced the hammering.

Romans 8:28 promises that all things work together for the good of those who love God. But what do the “all things” include? And just what is meant by “good”?

Let’s answer the second question first. According to verse 29 the good thing that God is using “all things” to accomplish is conformity to the image of His Son. He has destined us to be like Christ.

Now, the first question: What do the “all things” include? Verse 18 mentions our sufferings, and reports that those sufferings are not worth comparing with the future glory we will experience. Tie it all together. Among the tools God uses to shape us into the glorious image of Christ are sufferings—trials, hard times, difficult circumstances, stresses, pressures, adversities. Call the sufferings what you will, they are intended and permitted by our loving heavenly Father to conform us into the image of His Son.

—From How to Handle Life’s Hurts by Jim Dyet, © 2004, Regular Baptist Press

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