Over the course of my lifetime I have literally seen hundreds of Bible verses stuck to the bumpers of vehicles. I've read thousands of them on plaques hanging on dining room walls and even bathrooms. Speaking of bathrooms, I've even seen Scripture jotted down on scrap pieces of paper taped to bathroom mirrors.
One of the most famous favorite verses to hang on mirrors and refrigerators is Romans 8:28.
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
What a blessing to know that regardless of what we see, feel, or experience in this life we can know that ultimately it is for our good. Even the most painful times are somehow intertwined working for our good, according to His purpose. There are a couple of words in that verse that are often ignored. They are "His purpose." What is His purpose?
There is another verse in that same chapter that might help us find the answer. It's a verse that I have never seen on a plaque even though its words are equally as important as Romans 8:20. In fact they are so important that Paul shares them before the famous wall plaque verse.
Read this verse very slow:
"For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope." (Romans 8:20)
Have you ever seen that on a plaque or a bumper sticker? Have you ever heard that one taught on Christian television? In Sunday school was it ever assigned as a faith building memory verse?
Not only does this verse throw a monkey wrench into the doctrine of "free will" but it also clues us in on the fact that this present evil age in which we live is not designed in any way for us to successfully and absolutely find total satisfaction in anything this world has to offer.
Have you ever noticed that those who are typically seen as super successful in business, finance, entertainment, or sports are very rarely if ever absolutely satisfied with what they have attained in this age?
Guess what? It is by design. In this age we live in God has subjected creation to frustration! Some translations use the word futility.
This is not what any of us have chosen. It is something we were born into and there is nothing we can do about it. However, I am convinced that it serves an important purpose.
In Romans chapter eight verse twenty the Spirit of God inspired Paul to let us know that the frustration we will experience throughout our lives is the will of God for us. We had no choice in the matter. The things we experience are not the result of an accident or God's plans going awry. It is the will of God for us in this age.
Here is the same verse from a literal translation: "For to vanity was the creation made subject -- not of its will, but because of Him who did subject [it] -- in hope,"
Frustration, futility, and vanity are the words that describe what the creator has subjected His creation to in this age. Although we might not fully understand why, at least we can know that it is all working together for the good.
It is my opinion the futility and frustration, are a necessary part of our growth and development so that we can fully appreciate the beauty and glory of that which is to come.
After all the only way we can relish sweetness is to have also experienced bitterness. The only way to appreciate the gift of life is to have experienced death lingering over us.
I'm convinced that the frustration, pain, and futility of this age will ultimately be the key to us enjoying and appreciating to the fullest the glorious beauty that is to
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James Flanders is a part-time theologian, musician, and audio blogger. He and his wife Tanya have been playing music and searching the Scriptures together for over twenty years (experiencing much futility and frustration along the way (Romans 8:20).
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