I’ve been told that any situation in my life can bring God glory: even the most painful things. His glory is also one of the Bible’s main themes. In every storyline, no matter how brutal or joyful, his fame is a goal.
So, does this make him selfish? I’ve confronted this question multiple times. On one hand, I love that I get to bring him glory, because he truly deserves it. I love him so dearly, and I know that I need him.
But sometimes the phrase rubs me the wrong way, just a little bit. Instead of being filled with joy at the idea, I sometimes feel. . . annoyed?
Here’s an example: lately, I’ve been reading the book of Ezekiel. I honestly expected to snore through its 48 chapters, but it’s quite an exciting read! So please don’t start snoring just yet.
This book focuses on judgment and restoration, yet God’s glory is woven throughout the entire thing.
Judgment for God’s glory?
In the first chunk, God proclaims judgments on his people (the Israelites) for turning away from him. They have disobeyed him horribly and turned to the world’s way. Because of that, they’ve already been attacked by another nation and brought into exile. It is here that God also declares things like famine, violence, destruction, and desolation on them.
And even in these terrifying words, God’s glory consistently shows up. “And you will know that I am the Lord.” This phrase, in some form, appears 50 times in the book! Even this pain will help them see God for who he is.
Blessing for God’s glory
After the judgment, God speaks of restoration and renewal. He says he will become his peoples’ shepherd: bringing them back into their land and caring tenderly for them. He promises prosperity, strength, and peace.
And once again, it’s 100% for his glory. These verses really surprised me:
Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. -Ezekiel 36:22
Not for their sake
It's not for their sake? At first glance, that seems to take away the beauty of these blessings. The people have already suffered so much. Why couldn’t God just restore them for their good, because he loved them? Dare I say, it did seem selfish. . .
A few years ago, I head a short piece on the radio about this issue. The speaker told us to imagine God looking down on us. He sees all our problems, longings, and mess, and he knows that he is the only solution to it all. He knows that nothing else can fill us: not even good things! We need him far more than we need money, friends, security, education, comfort, or anything! He is the loving Creator. He is all-knowing. And he is the ultimate good.
So, how and why would he point us to anything but himself? That would be a cruel trick, simply a dead end.
A kind decision
It reminds me of the phrase “for God’s glory and my good.” That’s the concept here: that letting our lives bring God glory is the best thing for us. And he lets us know it. He’s not the friend who will agree with anything you say or do. Instead, he’s the Father who knows you best and points you to what you really need. . . in this case, himself!
So, when he restored the Israelites, it was for his glory, yes. But it was also for their good, and because he loved them! It’s a beautiful picture when we can see the whole thing.
Let’s also remember that God deserves all glory. He has created everything in this beautiful universe. He has shown us endless grace in sending Jesus to die for us. He is all-powerful. Everything good in life is from him! We really can’t do or be anything on our own. We are simply vessels of his glory.
He must become greater; I must become less. John 3:30
Am I okay with that?
So the question becomes, “am I okay with that?” Am I okay with God allowing both pain and blessing into my life for his own glory? Can I see past my pride enough to believe that this really is the best way?
I was trying to process this earlier today and ended up making a list. I asked, “How has God shown me that ‘He is the Lord’ through the good and painful in my life?”
Naturally, I made ‘good’ and ‘painful’ columns, and the list really grew. I thought of the biggest things and the smallest things that have comprised my life and have pointed me to Christ. Here are some examples:
I encourage you to make a similar list. This exercise filled me with such thankfulness! God has been standing beside me in every situation saying, “And you will know that I am the Lord.” I’ve come to know his character and his greatness through every part of my life. And now I realize that it’s all been a blessing. “Painful” doesn’t always mean “bad.” And the good isn’t just for my enjoyment.
Ultimately, God is my only hope. I see nothing else that could fulfil me, and I praise him for that. He has sacrificed greatly to have a relationship with us, and I praise him for that. He is so far beyond me, yet he invites me into his presence daily, and I praise him for that. He gives me every breath and every day of life, and I praise him for that.
He deserves all the glory, and I cannot wait to grow older and see it displayed in even more of my life.
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Follow me on social media for post updates!