Sign on toilet door in Chengdu airport, China
Photo by Anne Roberts on Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA-2.0

There’s a real art to translation: zeroing in on just the right words to convey the nuance of what the original author intended.

Done well, a translated work can be a masterpiece in its own right.

Oftentimes, though, a translation can turn out to be a farce, as in the following examples:

A menu item in Chinese for a roasted gluten dish was translated into English as “Sixi Roasted Husband.” (The perfect dish for wives who’ve finally had enough of their mates?)

A hot and spicy chicken dish on another Chinese menu became “Chicken Rude and Unreasonable” in English. (No wonder the chicken met his end—he had it coming!)

Or this Google Translate zinger: “It’s been the goat in the budget, because His raining badly, so quite short, he is on the bucket month out.” (Not sure what this meant in the original Danish, but I hope the goat was able to figure it out.)

Then there’s the sign for a hair salon in China whose English name is “Could Not Connect To Translator Service.” (A bit of a give-away that they didn’t bother hiring a real live translator?)

Sometimes, we have a different understanding or “translation” of what God actually meant in certain Bible verses.

For example, in times of difficulty, we cling to verses such as 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.”

However, it can often be hard to see what good could possibly come from our difficult situations. We might be going through health challenges, injustice, hardship or loneliness. Where is the good in any of that?

But maybe we have a limited understanding of what “good” means. Perhaps we and God have different “translations” of what this looks like in our lives.

We may think “good” means a problem-free life of abundance and happiness. We assume it means a life absent of pain or suffering. We probably take it to mean we’ll be spared going through circumstances that shake us to the core.

But God gives us a clue of what His view of “good” is in the next verse:

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Romans 8:29 NIV)

“David” Sculpture by Michelangelo
Photo by Jorg Bittner Unna, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-3.0

The “good” God intends is our being shaped into the image of Jesus. For some of us, this process will require going through some trying times.

To gain His patience, we may be placed in circumstances that involve a lot of waiting. To mirror the same sort of humility Jesus had, it might mean going through some humbling situations. To attain His level of faith and trust in God, it’s likely we’ll find ourselves having to rely completely on God’s strength, not our own.

The truth is, we’re not promised a problem-free life. We’re bound to experience suffering, injustice, and pain. Jesus said as much: “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33).

What we are promised as believers is a gradual transformation into the image of God’s Son.

It’s said that Michelangelo created his sculptural masterpiece “David” by chipping away from the marble everything that didn’t look like David.

In the same way, God is chipping away everything in our lives that doesn’t look like Christ.

This process can hurt, but think of it this way: you’re being conformed to the image of God’s masterpiece, Jesus.

And that’s the very definition of good!

© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

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