Romans 8: 28-31 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 God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this?
Some of you may have noticed that it's been a couple of weeks since I have posted anything. Some of you have my incoming email notifications set on "delete." Ouch. I have taken a while off just to decompress, get adjusted to my new work schedule, and exhale. It's been a tough transition for me, and frankly I haven't been at my best the last month or so. I'm so thankful that my status as a "son" is not based on behavior, but rather the grace of my Savior. As the Apostle Paul said, "Oh wretched man that I am."
I'm pretty sure the season I'm in is the "off-season" for my walk of faith. For those of you unfamiliar with that sports term, that is the time of year when there is training and preparation. It's the time when you get up early and run and lift weights and sweat.
Sweeeeet. It's also the time of the year when you learn discipline and measure yourself and take inventory. As I have been searching myself and taking inventory I have found a depleted will, a discouraged soul, and a tired body. Can you relate?
Yet, I'm so challlenged by the concept and promise found in "all things." The Truth is true whether I feel it or know it. My condition may be weak, my strength my be depleted, yet my Father continues to work things for my benefit even if I can't see it or perceive it. What a gracious Dad.
2 Corinthians 4:8-10 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
I have lived a 21st century version of this the past few weeks. I have been hard stressed but not institutionalized, frustrated and in some despair, persecuted seemingly at random, flipped off and threatened and responded in like manner forgetting at least at that moment I was being "blessed." Yet the echo remains, "All things..."
Matthew 6:10-13 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
A few months ago I had a friend who was treated unfairly by his superiors. I happened to be invited to the meeting of his resignation announcement. He called me for a thermometer check to ensure my conduct would be virtuous and respectful at the meeting. He knew the temperature was high and the barometer was falling with storm clouds rolling into the area. I asked him if he didn't trust the Jesus in me. He said, "It's not the Jesus in you I'm worried about, it's the Tim in you that concerns me." We had a great laugh about that. "All things..."
It's so true, the Tim in me can leave the tracks when I see injustice. I want to set things straight and leave no room for the "vengeance" of God (whatever that is). So I attended this meeting having given my word I would behave, only to sit silently as my friend, and those in attendance were manipulated and ultimately insulted by unrighteous authority. Supposed men of God with an agenda of their own. I seethed with anger as one pronounced an incantation to mitigate any adverse effect to his paycheck and idol. "All things..."
I watched in dumbfounded horror as others sat silent, thinking at any moment those without the verbal agreement would grow some nads and speak up. I eventually came to understand many saw that his loss was their gain - an enhanced stature as his was diminished. We all like to be needed, and with his void the need would be great. Virtue be damned, it's MY season now. I struggled to love many of these people over the next few weeks. "All things..."
Trust is not my strong suit. My Father knows this. Time and again my trust has been broken, first by an earthly father I hardly knew, then by many a friend as a child, many a grilfriend as a young man, and by coworkers and "Christians" as an adult. Trust is hard because it involves vulnerability which often involves pain. "All things..."
Many of you are concerned, frustrated, scared or just down right angry about the current political environment and how things look for the upcoming election. As we plummet into unabated socialism because of media manipulation, evil incantations, and lack of virtuous opposition, remember the Truth. Even if we lose this great Republic, no government, no ideology, no stake we claim is worth anything outside the bounds of His great love.
Sometimes His Light shines brightest in the darkness of adversity. His grace reaches deeply in the lowest of valleys. His seasons include the death of winter to bring the Life of Spring. Be instant in season and out of it, and remember He causes all things to work to our benefit. I like the way The Message paraphrases some of this Romans 8 passage including a couple of other verses.
Romans 8:15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what's coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we're certainly going to go through the good times with him!
28-31 God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun. So, what do you think?
I think that "if God is FOR us, who can be against us?" If we will allow the Jesus in us to overtake the (fill in the blank) in us, we might actually be salt and light and allow "All things" to work for our benefit.
Editorial note: This passage is often misapplied to interpret tragedy as being "God's will." Do not misunderstand that as "truth" or misapply this verse to everything that happens to you as God-ordained. He is big enough to take things that the enemy means for evil and turn them for our good, but rest assured, the enemy means evil for us that is not God-ordained.