Have you ever been in the middle of some very trying time of life where your circumstances seemed almost insurmountable? You may have tried to encourage yourself by saying something to the effect of “one day I’ll look back on this and understand what God wanted me to learn or what he was accomplishing in my life.” Or I’ve heard others say something like “I know everything happens for a purpose.” I may sound harsh and unsympathetic but the problem with this perspective is it’s all about you. God is accomplishing something and there is a purpose but it’s primary focus is not you.
Oswald Chambers puts it this way, “We are inclined to think that everything that happens is to be turned into useful teaching. In actual fact, it is to be turned into something even better than teaching, namely, character.” But even that character isn’t my character, it’s God’s character re-created in me that God is accomplishing. In 2 Corinthians 4:17 Paul’s perspective on the horrific circumstances he’s in (though he calls them light and momentary) is that they are producing an eternal glory. And not his glory, but, as verse 13 shows, glory for God
Needing to have a purpose or an understanding of why I had to endure a time of great adversity is actually very self-centered. When God’s character is re-created in us we become part of something much greater than ourselves, we take part in exactly what we were created for: bringing glory to God.
Now some may suggest that this makes God self-centered. If you do then you haven’t really met God. His nature is always self-giving. His actions always result in his glory, but the actions are selfless. The most well know verse in the Bible, John 3:16 says it well. “God loved the world so much that he GAVE . . . “ And what did he give? He gave us himself in the person of Jesus who lived his life for our well-being at any cost to himself, including his death.
Your circumstances may teach you some valuable lesson, they may have a purpose that reveals itself in the coming weeks or even years, but their greatest function is not you-centered, it’s God centered.