A petri dish, eh? Makes me think of experiments, growing, cultivating new things... I've been thinking this metaphor over, feeling like there is something deep and beautiful there, I'm just not sure what...
"The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." - v. 16-25
Do you see what I saw?
We must suffer, we must have frustration, we must feel the bonds of decay and groan inwardly in this life. I will get very sick and lose strength; I will wrestle with the need to depend on the help and care of others. And you will suffer in your own ways too. We will regret our mistakes, mourn broken relationships, weep over injustice, and long for what we do not have.
The sufferings God allows in our lives are the specimens he puts in our petri dish - the verses say that we are subjected to it by his will. But the suffering has purpose. A scientist doesn't just toss any old thing in a dish... he chooses carefully what to add in, to observe and study the results.
And the purpose in these verses is to cultivate HOPE - hope that one day we will share in his glory; hope that we will be free; hope that we will be adopted into his family; hope that our bodies will be redeemed and glorified... Hope that life will not always be the way it is now. And the good news is, hope that comes from the Lord does not disappoint us (Romans 5:5).
As I consider this, I smile and agree with my friend - I want to be God's petri dish, too. I want to be open and available for him to fill me according to his will, and then watch how he uses those things to grow and cultivate hope in my life... Father, take this simple, weak, and unimpressive girl, and create something beautiful and strong, to the praise of Your glory.