"God causes all things to work together for good" was a refrain in a song that I listened to this morning. I closed my eyes and I felt God asking me, "Do you believe that?"
- If you do, then you need to rethink and re-frame how you view the painful parts of your past. [more]
The refrain comes from Romans 8:28 NASB:
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
Or in Eugene Peterson's The Message paraphrase:
"That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good."
I can easily go into analytical mode and say that there are two preconditions to this promise and they are: 1) those who love God, and 2) those who are called according to His purpose.
But I know God is telling me to listen with an open heart, and not to escape to my mind. His promise in Romans 8:28 applies to me: I love Him and He has called me to be His beloved daughter.
He is trying to get me to see that He is BIGGER than my past, BIGGER than my pain, and BIGGER than my problems.
For many years, I rationalized certain painful events by thinking about how this person and that person, or that group of people, have truly suffered so much more. In comparison, I have much to be thankful for... which is true but doesn't change the other truth: I have also suffered even if I have not suffered as much as certain individuals and people groups.
- Several years ago, I didn't realize that God doesn't categorize and compare our pain.
He feels all of it and He wants to heal all of it. Unfortunately, denial of my pain doesn't make another person's pain go away. I wish it did.
In fact, if I don't acknowledge and feel my pain and allow God to heal me, then I can't receive comfort from God. And if I don't allow God to comfort me, then I can't offer to others the comfort that God has given me. (2 Cor. 1:3-4).
If I am not honest with God about my pain, I will offer others platitudes, instead of a heart that has struggled with God and found His heart of love (not condemnation) in the midst of that struggle.
I hear Him telling me that He has comforted me, and now He will turn what I view as my liability (past pain) into "something good."
How does he do that?
He reminded me that He did that when my tears gave a friend the freedom to share with me her painful childhood. She didn't have to be alone with her pain. I could offer her a listening ear and point her to God.
He asks me again: "Will you believe that I cause all things to work together for good?"
He reminds me of how He took Christ's suffering on the cross and turned it into His resurrection and new life for all who would ask for it in Jesus.
Will I believe that He can do the same for me?
So I pray along with the father in the Gospels, who asked Jesus to heal his son: "I do believe, help my unbelief. (Mark 9:24)"
Do you believe that God can cause all things to work together for good?
I have opened the Comments on this post and I would love to hear how God has made Romans 8:28 a reality in your life, or if you're in the middle of your process right now.
This post by Ann Voskamp with video expresses so well how God does work all things together for good. Enjoy her post here.
11/15/11 UPDATE: God has answered prayer and is helping my unbelief so that Romans 8:28 is becoming more real to me in different ways.
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