In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:28 has been a verse that has carried me through more dark hours than I care to mention. Not because I believed that it was saying that every thing would end happily ever after, but because of what the end of verse 27 says, “according to the will of God.” That phrase is of the utmost importance. Today we are told everywhere we look that God wants us to have our “best life now.” Our best life isn’t going to take place on this earth, it is going to take place in the presence of our Holy God in heaven, one day in the future, and it will last for eternity. We have been given this twisted perspective that it is all about us. We have the opinion that God is here to meet our whims and give us all of our desires, as long as they are really good. We seem to think that we have something God needs. As if He couldn’t work out His will without us. God uses us to work out His will, we are His instruments and tools, but His will, will be done apart from me or anything I can do to mess it up.
Today I was thinking about someone who God used in my life before I was a Christian to teach me something of His nature. This person was Corrie ten Boom. If you are unfamiliar with her, she is a Christian who helped hide Jews in Amsterdam. She and her family risked their lives to help those who were being unjustly persecuted. God spared her, though He took her through the darkest hours any of us can imagine, and He worked everything to His good. Did that mean that her father, brother and her dear sister Betsy all made it through the horrors to be reunited at the end. No. They all paid with their lives, except Corrie. She watched her sister beaten and abused, and they lived in conditions none of us can imagine. Was this good? Would she have said she was living her best life? She would have, but who else would have? Through Corrie trials and suffering the Lord has been able to reach countless others. She was a stepping stone that the Lord used to draw me to Himself. God used these unbearable trials to teach Corrie many valuable lessons, and then He allowed her to share these truths with others. God worked good in Corrie’s life, every day of her life. Not only in the good times, but in the unbearable times. He never left her, He had His hand on her every moment of every day, no matter how dark.
Another dear woman that God has used in my life is Elisabeth Elliot. Jim and Elisabeth were missionaries in Ecuador, along with Ed McCulley and his wife Marilou, Roger Youderian and his wife Barbara, Pete Fleming and his wife Olive, and Nate Saint and his wife Marjorie and his sister Rachel. Their plan was to reach a group of hostile natives known as the Aucas. The men set out on a trip in effort to make contact, and did. They were then killed by the very natives to whom they were taking the gospel. The days of not knowing had to be very difficult on all of these women. They all had young children, except the Flemings. As a wife and mother, I can only imagine how dark those days of not knowing must have been. The struggle of trying to keep everything together for the children had to be unbearable. God did not desert them during their darkest hours. He carried them. He gave them just the grace they needed for that moment. He even gave Elisabeth and Rachel the ability to forgive the very men who had killed their loved ones, and used these women to bring countless natives to Christ.
Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me–to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:7-10
God allowed Corrie ten Boom and Elisabeth Elliot to go through struggles we can hardly imagine. Why? For His glory and to work things together for His good. This is often hard for us to comprehend and we can’t see how we could go through something similar. The truth of the matter is, none of us have the strength to go through something like this alone, we can only get through it with the grace of God to sustain us. He won’t give us the strength we need until the moment we need it.
I have gone through dark days in my life, where I couldn’t see God’s plan no matter how hard I tried. What I was going through didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t see how any of it could be made into something good. Twenty-two years later, I see the good. The truth is, I only see a portion of the good He did through those circumstances. The portion I see is overwhelming at times. He has blessed me beyond anything I could dream of deserving. God alone is able to give strength to those whose knees are buckling under from the weight of the burdens being carried. Do you feel that the burden you are carrying is more than you can handle? Who is doing the heavy lifting? You, or God?
This is part of the interview I saw when I was in my teens of Corrie ten Boom. Skip to the 3:10 mark to see her.
Stephen Curtis Chapman did a tour in 2002 talking about the group from Ecuador. This video is a small part of it, you may want to watch the other parts as well. They are all great.