We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Growing up, Mom would often remind us that, “Everything works together for good for those who love the Lord,” as a way to encourage us through the rough times. It made me strong. I felt I could bear up under the pressures of changing circumstances because I knew my heart and my own love for God. And, for many years, I thought that my love for Him was enough to work everything out. It wasn’t, though. I was missing a critical component of the message.
The verse doesn’t end with everything working out. It ends with a caveat – things work out not simply because we love God, but because we are working toward His plans – His purpose for our life.
It makes sense when I think about it. I mean, how often have I hurt those I loved? How often have I let a person I cared deeply about down? I can count family & friends among those whom I love the most in the world, but also among those whom I have hurt, disappointed, or failed in one way or another throughout my life. It doesn’t mean I loved them any less, but it certainly didn’t right the wrongs.
The promise of this verse is different. The focus isn’t on me, it isn’t about the quality or quantity of my love. In fact, it has much more to do with God than it has to do with me. Generally, a person will do something to assist you in a goal or work with you toward a common purpose if they believe (read “trust”) you and your intentions. This verse is a promise about God’s will for our lives.
This verse is based on a few fundamental truths. First, God has a plan and purpose for my life. Second, God’s plan is a good one, and I should trust it and Him. Third, I love and trust him so implicitly that I will follow his plan even if I can not see the path clearly or at all. Finally, regardless of what roadblocks I encounter, as long as I am doing what God has called me to do, He will work a way around, through, in-spite-of, or even using obstacles as a springboard so that I might fulfill His plan.
I can not simply make my own short-sighted plans and expect Him to bless my mess. I must actively pursue God’s will for my life. And, when I do, He promises that He will work “all things” out for my good.
That’s both comforting and scary.
I long for control. I want desperately to captain my own ship. But, like a small child chasing a ball into the street, my vision is limited by my desires. God’s vision is perfect, omnipotent, and loving. There are times when I grow frustrated as a parent because I can see the pitfalls my almost-grow teenagers are about to make. I can warn them. I can tell them about my expectations. I can explain the vision I have for their lives. But, in the end, they have to choose what they will do. I am asking them to trust my judgment over their own and, if you’ve ever had teenagers, you know that they know “everything,” and we Gen Xers know nothing about the world as it is now. Except, of course, that the core facets of life, people, relationships, traps, & opportunities haven’t actually changed that much. I guess God knows exactly how I feel.
I suppose it all boils down to one simple question: Am I striving to fulfill God’s purpose for my life?
If I am, I’m in good hands.