• I enjoyed my childhood, growing up in Puerto Rico. I would always have fun and do crazy things. I often got into trouble and broke a lot of valuables. But I’m sure none of you got into trouble and did insane things as a kid. When I was a kid, I would love spending time with my sister, mother, and father.
• Sometimes my father would take me and my sister to parks and sometimes we would get some ice cream. My dad owned a garden shop so I would regularly go with him to work and play around the different plants he had.
• After a while my little brother was born. Our family seemed to be blessed and filled with joy.
• However, a few months after my brother’s birth, I noticed something unusual. Dad hadn’t been home in a while. “Where was he?”
• My mom tried to keep us occupied during that week so we wouldn’t be concerned about his absence, but soon after she told us that our dad was killed in a car accident.
• My sister and I were shocked! Imagine hearing that suddenly you no longer have a dad. What do you think that does to a child?
• My mom was all alone now with three kids in Puerto Rico with no close relatives nearby. How would she deal with this? How do you think she should have dealt with such a loss?
• We all wondered, “Why had this happened!?” I’m sure she had to work really hard to provide for us and she had to work twice as hard to keep us disciplined (especially me since I was a wild child).
• “So what were we to do now?” “Why is this happening?”
Isn’t it kind of hard to view everything in an optimistic view during the problems we face? I’m sure each of you have had your fair share of hardships. Maybe your parents are divorced. Maybe someone close to you has recently passed away. Maybe you may feel overwhelmed and overworked. We’ve all confronted struggles whether we are preschoolers, teenagers, professors, or engineers. This isn’t a secret: we all deal with hardships. And sometimes it feels like we go through more bad times than good. So is there really a purpose behind all these hard times? “I’m so tired.” “I’m overworked.” Now I’m not trying to make you feel hopeless or defeated. In reality, I hope that I’ll be able to help you be filled with hope, joy, and strength by the end of this message. However, I’ve discovered the only way to keep positive attitude is by realizing that everything has a purpose.
When we look around at the world, we can tell that everything is far too complex to be just a random occurrence or an amazing mistake. I believe it takes a lot of faith and a bit of stupidity to think there is no God. From all of our specialized body parts to our cells and from our living cells to our intricate DNA, we can tell there is, in fact, a God. From each different species of animal to the water cycle, from trees inhaling carbon dioxide which humans exhale to humans inhaling the oxygen which the trees exhale, we can understand that there is a God. Psalms 19: 1 tell us, “The heavens declare the glory of God”! We know God is alive and real and very present with us. So we can know without a doubt that we are not random beings formed from a big bang! We were created on purpose for a special purpose by the Creator Himself. Each of us were created by God to fulfill His purpose in a unique way. The same way we have purpose in life, everything around us has a purpose. Water has a purpose (we need in order to survive since 60% of our body is made up of water), trees have a purpose (to provide needed oxygen to the world around them), the chairs we sit on have a purpose, our struggles have a purpose and yes, even death has a special purpose. And God helps each thing complete its purpose. He oversees creation as the sovereign ruler who’s in control of everything.
I’m sure it’s not hard to believe that we have a God-given purpose. But how can struggles have a purpose. You might say, “Yeah I know the purpose of struggles… they’re only there to make my life a whole lot harder!” And when we face struggles we just want to give up or call a quits. After all, I’m sure we’d all rather be playing outside, or watching T.V., or hanging out with friends… However, in the real world, life doesn’t work that way. Life is tough and we going to be confronted with difficult situations. But I’m here to tell you there’s a purpose behind those hard times. Don’t we learn from these struggles? Don’t we learn from those experiences? I know I do. I constantly learn how to be more self-controlled, or patient, or loving, or thankful when bad things happen to me. We need to be reminded why we’re confronted by these circumstances— to learn and grow wiser and smarter.
In the book of Romans, Paul provides us with many truths about God. He also spoke about different topics; one of those topics was suffering. When we read about Paul, we know he faced many struggles during his life. It seems he probably suffered more as a Christian than when he was a non-believer. So he knows a lot about suffering. In Romans 8, he writes, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” –Romans 8: 18 (NKJV). Paul tell us that he is not concerned about all the suffering he is going through. But why does Paul feel this way? He feels this way because of what is to come after this life. He was willing to suffer (even to the point of death) for what was to come after he died! His hope was placed in the fact that he would be in the presence of God after he left this earth. I think suffering for 40 years, 60 years, or even 100 years on earth is worth eternity a new body, a new name, and a relationship with Jesus Christ in heaven, don’t you? If you think this suffering is worth it “Prepare your minds for action, and be sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”-1 Peter 1:13 (ESV). Our lives are filled with purpose and direction! Put differently, Psalms 71 shows who our hope is, “For You are my hope, O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth. –Psalms 71:5 (NKJV). Not only is our hope placed on Jesus’s grace and His promise that we will be with Him in eternity, but it also placed on God Himself!
Romans 8: 24 insists that “…we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” (NKJV). So as we rest in the hope that Jesus’s gives us, we can live a purpose-filled life. Regardless of the situation— that final exam, the surgery you’re about to have, or the loss of a family member “…we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” –Romans 8:28 (NKJV).
Paul knew God had placed him on this earth for a reason. But what about you? Are you going the direction God is leading you to? Are you allowing God and His Word, the Bible, to lead you? Or are you only living for yourself? Ask yourself, “How are you fulfilling your God-given purpose?”
Suffering will come, but when it does come your way, see it as a learning opportunity that will help you fulfill your life calling, your God-given purpose. I’m thankful that even before my father died, my mother loved God and followed Him. And as we grieved over my dad’s death, she told me that there God has a specific purpose for why things happen. From this time on, I constantly asked myself “What is my purpose in life? Why am I here on this earth?” But I know the answer: God had placed me on earth to tell others about His love and how He cares for us and watches over us even when we suffer and struggle in life. So when I look back at all the things I’ve had to overcome and go through, I know God had a reason behind them all.
God has done so much for us and He blesses us greatly. He has forgiven our sins, delivered us from evil, allowed us to become His children, provided the gift of life, and His given us the assurance of spending an eternity with Him after we pass away. He has given us a special hope that only can be found in Him. We know our faith is based on Jesus’s birth, His sacrificial death, and His resurrection, and our hope is also upon Christ— on His return to reclaim those who have trusted in Him! Don’t ever forget whenever you are dealing with a hardship or a struggle “God is working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” –Romans 8:28 (My paraphrased version)