by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman
“According to His great mercy [He] has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4
Parent-Teacher conferences were always a challenge when I was teaching. By the end of the first marking period, my students had made themselves known. The honeymoon was over. The good, bad, and the ugly had all come to light.
Through the years, I found that a positive parental response to what I had to share depended on the delivery. So I always began the meeting with three positive things I saw in the child: maybe an excellent work ethic, or a soft heart toward God’s Word; things that went beyond behavior to the content of their character. I wanted parents to know I noticed the positive and had sincere concern for their child’s welfare. We were on the same team.
Of course, every child had areas that needed improvement. But when delivered within a carefully laid framework of the positive, parents received the negative as constructive. They were more than willing to join forces with me in guiding the child to positive change and growth.
Proper perception is dependent on a proper framework.
Paul sets up a proper framework for us in his letter to the Romans. He wanted his readers to view their present struggle within the proper framework of hope. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18 NASB). Hard times are an inevitable part of following a suffering Savior. But when understood within the context of the larger picture, they have meaning and purpose.
What is the big picture, the framework in which we should contextualize our struggles? Our hope of glory. “[We] groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body… we hope for what we do not see” (Romans 8:23b NASB).
Life on earth is no picnic. Struggle is a part of reality, especially for those who have believed in Jesus Christ. We have several enemies working against us. There is the ever-present Satan, tempting and accusing us at every turn. There is the world, deriding us as we hold to the truth and follow Christ, both things which they have soundly rejected. But the enemy within is our own flesh. Paul describes the struggle between good and evil within us in Romans 7. We struggle. We fail. Again and again. There are days when we wonder: is it worth it?
It’s easy to lose sight of the forest when we are surrounded by the trees. The struggle may be what’s easily seen at the moment. But there is more than what presently meets the eye.
God has promised an unbelievable future for those that believe. He has adopted us and given us a hope: we will share in the inheritance of His Son. Someday our flesh will be redeemed. It will finally fully match the new life God has created in us. Unimaginable glory will be ours-we will share in the glory of Christ!
He has left a deposit, a guarantee of this glorious future: the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. Our future is secure.
In that context, our present struggle becomes tolerable. When viewed within the kind intentions of God, knowing what he has already done in the past and will do for us in the future, the pain suddenly pales. We follow him willingly through the hard, knowing the framework of the big picture.
After all, it’s exactly what Christ did. Philippians tells us he “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Why? He understood the bigger picture, the reality of what was not yet seen: “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on the earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11 NASB).
Future glory. The promise of God. The framework makes all the difference.
About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.
Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.
Join the conversation: What part of God’s framework is the most important to you?