I have felt like punching another Christian only a few times. Most of those times came when I had just finished sharing about a time of suffering I or one of my family members had been experiencing.
And then they shared a Bible verse with me. You’ve probably heard this one too. “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” (Rom. 8:28).
I felt like punching them because, instead of responding with God’s compassion, they seemed to be trying to “fix” me with this Scripture. I needed to be reminded of the truth in Romans 8:28 later, not in a time of great pain. Ill-timed truth can be hurtful, not helpful.
Nonetheless, it’s a great verse that assures us God can take the good and the bad in our lives and cause them to work together for good. This “good” is first and foremost to conform us to the image of Christ, according to the next verse, Romans 8:29: “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.”
This brings about a deeper intimacy with God for us and gives greater expression of him through us to bless other people. Other times, it can include blessings in our lives we can clearly see. For example, a few years ago my oldest son, Andrew, kept calling my phone while Ellen and I were in a movie with our daughter, Bekah.
When I finally got up and called him, he said, “Dad, it’s okay now, but I caught the house on fire.”
“What happened?” I said, alarmed.
“I was upstairs watching TV. In a little while, Christopher yelled out to me, ‘Andrew, why is there smoke coming up the stairs?’ I had placed a pan of cooking oil on the stove to get hot so I could fry some shrimp. But when I went upstairs, I forgot about it. I freaked out when I saw that the pan and the cabinets above it were on fire. Christopher wanted to throw water on it, but I told him we’d better use the fire extinguisher. We put the fire out, but there’s still smoke everywhere.”
When we got home, we saw the stove and microwave above it had melted. The cabinets were charred. The ceiling and walls downstairs had black soot everywhere. We were all stunned, but mainly glad Andrew and Christopher were safe.
Now for the good: Ellen had been wanting to change the color of our paint on the walls. She got her wish. Our homeowner’s insurance paid for new paints, which was the exact color she wanted. We also got a new stove, a new microwave, and newly painted cabinets. Romans 8:28, right? We saw the “good” very obviously.
How about you? Have you seen God allow difficulties in your life to bring about good?
© Mark Maulding, God’s Best-Kept Secret: Christianity Is Easier Than You Think, Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing, 2017