I recently attended a birthday party where my kids received tokens to play games for which they could win tickets. After depleting their supply of tokens, they took their tickets to the exchange counter, hearts hopeful their few hours of play would earn a decent prize. With expectancy in their eyes, they gazed up at the toys, games, and oversized stuffed animals looming before them.
How disappointing when the desk clerk re-directed their gaze to the sparse supply of mini-candies behind the glass counter. Yes, 1,000 tickets would earn a prize. Three bite-sized candies.
At least my kids are easily contented enough to be satisfied with a night of fun and a few chocolates. But I’ll have to admit, my calculations of token cost to ticket wins to actual prize results left me doubtful I’d return to that venue apart from another party invitation. All that work earning tickets failed to yield a worthy result.
It got me thinking of another promise of a greater exchange: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Here, we are told that ALL THINGS will be used for good by the God whom we love. The blessed. The bad. The painful. The tear-rending. ALL will one day be redeemed. ALL will be used for good.
God makes good on his promises. He will not give us a handful of candy in exchange for our trials. One day, whether here on earth or in the glory of heaven, we will see. God, the master designer, weaves good from every thread of pain wrought on this earth. That’s what makes him God.
He alone is able to redeem the worst of circumstances to bring forth something beautiful.
A precious woman named Corrie ten Boom endured the deepest of hells in a World War II concentration camp. After losing her Father and her sister to the ravages of suffering, she was able to stand and say, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” I can’t imagine coming through such horrors with confident assurance of God’s goodness. Yet Corrie knew that somehow, in some way, all her suffering would yield a greater return both here and in the age to come.
We may think that all the suffering life brings is reason enough to end our own. But the knowledge that we have a God who is able to bring beauty from ashes, joy from tears, and praise from despair is reason enough to live.
Now my kids’ short-lived disappointment in getting a less-than-expected prize is nothing compared to the disappointment many of us have experienced in life. But it serves as a timely reminder that IN GOD’S HANDS, nothing is wasted. He will exchange all our suffering for something good. We can’t see it now, but one day, we will see. And it’s gonna be worth it.