Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”! For those who do not believe in God or the bible and for those who are struggling in their faith right now those words probably feel like a slap-in-the-face. I acknowledge that because as a believer who feels growth in my relationship with God I too feel like this passage is immensely hard to grasp.
The past number of weeks I have felt blessing beyond compare. So many things have worked together for the good of me going back to school that I feel as though it’s too good to be true. In a way there’s a small part of me that’s waiting for the big brick wall to appear suddenly before me, I do recognize that my God does not work that way but the reality is that we live in a fallen world where all sorts of disappointment and terrible is possible.
I think the evidence of that has reared its ugly head again this week with two pretty terrible events taking place in the US, Boston and Texas. The sad thing is that I’m sure many more terrible things have happened in other places of the world we just don’t know about them. In these cases and many others over the course of history we look at the places in the bible that tell us God works things together for the good of those who love him and fail to understand how there is truth in these words. We struggle with understanding how good can come from these situations, we struggle with why the passage says, “for those who love him”, we struggle with knowledge of how God could even allow these situations to happen when he is all-powerful and then we struggle with why we even question him when we should just trust. We don’t see answers, instead more questions build.
GOD IS FOR US
Reading further in the passage I see an eternal promise, “…If God is for us, who can be against us?” But in reflecting on that I feel as if plenty is against us…trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, swords (weapons)…all these things are listed in the same passage as things that we face and every single one of them can be named in some part of the world. The author of Romans asks us if these shall separate us from the love of Christ. It’s a question we have to ask ourselves on a regular basis and understand that we allow that separation by our response to the circumstance. I would never presume to put myself in the shoes of those who have suffered a major event or loss such as those in Boston or Texas, I can’t honestly say that the depths of my heart would not immediately respond in anger to God’s lack of intervention.
SOMETIMES EVEN THE GOOD CAN SEPARATE US
What I personally take away from these reflections is this: in the times of great blessing, we can choose to step into the fullness of that blessing or hold back with reservation. When God opens the doors for us, we can confidently walk through, accept the gracious gifts of abundance that he’s bestowed upon us and then into his arms with full abandon and thankfulness OR we can cautiously test the threshold, step through with trepidation only to experience the gifts with hesitation and uncertainty, not fully enjoying the moments for what they are and then walk into his open arms with an awkward pat on the back and a timid thank you!
HOPE THROUGH THE CLEARING SMOKE
And on the flip side of things when we enter the boat of deep sorrow, loss, struggle, frustration or anger we can get permanently lost in the devastating smoke or we can read these words with hope…”For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” It means we can walk through the clearing smoke of these terrible things and see God standing with his arms open wide longing to embrace and hold us so that while we shed our tears we feel the comfort of One who never wants to let us go. I know that even though some of us might take a little longer to find our way out of the clearing smoke, possibly even getting lost along the way and wandering deeper into it, it doesn’t mean that God is NOT still waiting on the other side for us, eagerly anticipating the moment we breach the the thick cloud and see his deep, deep love.