Dec 4, 2022
Who said that ALL things work together for the good? What does that mean for you? Has it been misquoted? Has it been used out of context?
A friends mother died.
Another friends mom just had heart surgery while fighting cancer- the son is taking care of her in his late fifties.
A well known local just died.
One of my deacons just got a kidney and is doing great
One of my groomsman’s wife of 37 years has colon cancer
My old bosses kid just got a full ride to college
A clergyman I know is contemplating moving out of his house away from his wife.
Someone is celebrating 30 plus years of marriage
Another is sad for being alone
Someone else misses their mother who died a few years ago this time of the year.
My wife celebrates her birthday and goes back and forth between being her old self and a patient. Last year she was in a coma. She is scheduled for a new surgery in two weeks. No one knows what will happen when the go back into her head. She’ll probably be dancing by new years.
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I’ve been going through some stuff lately. I’ve been sorting out thoughts, life choices, and listening to the pains and struggles of others. It can wear you down. And it is supposed to. I realized today that it is the struggle that makes you better. It is adversity that is your friend. Trouble in your life can be good. Thanks to all that have heard me moaning, complaining and gave me comfort. I am not ok but I have a better understanding of stuff.
Romans 8:28 can suck. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
You remember when I said that the Lord will put more on you than you can handle right? OH YEAH, in case you missed it. Let me remind you. You might get hit by a mack truck. You won’t be able to handle it. You might die. You might live but walk funny. Doesn’t seem right does it? Romans 8:28. How is that going to work for good?
But our God is more powerful than all the forces of evil and all the rotten things that happen in our lives. God took death itself and used it to redeem all of humanity. He reached down into the depths of our brokenness and began the restoration process.
God is taking all of creation, even the broken stuff, and renewing and redeeming it.
And so, we should not take Romans 8:28 and use it to try to console ourselves, or others, that any trials or tragedies will ultimately result in success, that God will turn things around, or that even failures and losses are somehow “good.”
Rather, we should focus on the more important truth that God is bigger than all our tragedies, all our losses and our failures. Evil doesn’t win. In fact, in Christ’s death and resurrection, God enter into our brokenness and he redeemed the whole of it.
It is in this way that I think that Romans 8:28 reminds us that all things will be worked out for our good
Paul has been describing the life of Christians on this side of heaven as one of groaning as we long to escape the suffering of this life and to be with our Father God in person (Romans 8:18–23). We wait in the sure hope of the day our bodies will be resurrected and we will share in God's glory (Romans 8:24–25).
What about all the hard things that come along while we are waiting? Paul seems to offer the promise of this verse as a comfort for us.
Crucially, though, this promise is limited to "those who love God," and "those who are called according to His purpose." In short, that means the promise is for Christians: for saved believers, who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ (John 3:16–18; 14:6; Romans 3:26). No matter our feelings on a given day, loving God is part of what it means to live in Christ. That's who we are. Each of us is also called to fulfill God's purposes.
In other words, this verse cannot rightly be applied to non-Christians. Those who reject God do not express their love for God by coming to Him through faith in Jesus. For those who die without Christ, things will not have worked out for the better; they will have rejected the opportunity to take advantage of this promise (John 3:36).
What is the promise? That, for those who are saved, all things will indeed work together for good. "All things" should be taken to mean each and every circumstance one might experience, even pain or suffering. "Work," or "work together," must be understood in light of God taking action in the world. He is the one who causes all things to work together or, perhaps, works in and through all circumstances toward a specific end. What is that end? "Good."
The word "good" does not necessarily mean happy or painless or financially successful or our idea of the best possible outcome on any given day. God's ultimate good for us is to glorify us in eternity (Revelation 21:1–4). Beyond that, God works in and through us toward an ultimate good that serves His purpose for the universe.
The comfort of the verse is that nothing in this life of waiting and suffering is wasted. It is all meaningful for those in Christ, even if that doesn't diminish our pain in the moment.
And now lets talk about you and me.
Stuff has happened. You are going through.
Our bodies were made to adapt to stressors. Fight or flight. If you are in a hot climate, you sweat. If you walk in the snow, you will get big quadriceps. Big muscular legs. If you work in the sun you will get tan or burn.
Life also does a number on you. And you have a choice. You always have a choice. You don’t have a choice of what happens to you, you have a choice of how you are going to react. Is what just happened going to take me out or can I keep going? It’s sink or swim. Live or Die. Stand on your feet or live on your knees.
In nature, animals don’t have a choice. Some become food for a predator as soon as they are born. You do. We tend to think as soon as I get this I’ll be alright. And after you get that “thing” you find out that you are still not alright. It is the hunger, the struggle, the need to adapt that keeps you younger, stronger, and happier.
We get more done before we go on vacation than we do afterwards. We tell everyone about the trip and we clean the whole house in anticipation for the great trip. The trip rarely is as great as we thought it was going to be. You are left wanting.
The person that obtains the big house, the great car and the money is often dissatisfied because they didn’t enjoy the journey. The kids that grow up in that house don’t gain the desire to hustle and live mediocre lives where money is not their problem but they have plenty of them.
When you are fighting, you are goal oriented. You are more focused. You are involved. What happens to the undisputed heavy champ of the world? He usually gets fat and is beat up by a unknown “Rocky” that has nothing to lose.
I have traveled all over the world and I have partied with the rich and the poor. The poor had more fun. The parties were longer, the laugh genuine and food tastier.
What happens to the retiree that after thirty years of working like slave, finally gets to sit on his porch? He has a heart attack and dies. It seems unfair. Who said life was fair?
Life is a struggle. Death is the absence of stress. No bill collectors in the cemetery. No one fighting with the Jones in there.
If you are going through something, and I know you are, because we are all either in trouble, just coming out of trouble or headed toward trouble don’t sweat it. It is not the end. As long as you have life you have a chance and a choice.
Warren Buffet is a rich dude right? But I heard he is not leaving his wealth to his kids. Sounds hard right. Sounds like pops is evil. But I challenge you to think what if that was the greatest act of love he could do? It will make them struggle. It will make them fight. It will make them stronger.
You ever seen a kid with a silver spoon. Rich kids are some of the most jacked up kids you could ever find. Some of our kids are going to be like that because they have never had to sell lemonade, cut grass, work for their allowance money. They will become that little alien character from Area 51. Pale white, large eyes and long fingers. They are frail, can’t stand the sun, have big eyes from playing video games and watching video, long fingers from texting. But no muscle mass, small delicate things. Nasty little creatures. Look at all the trust fund babies. Boring. Look at all the stars that should have it going on, and they are miserable. Look at what happens to people that win the lottery. It’s not the money. Its not the fame. It’s the inability to adapt to the struggle. Whatever doesn’t kill you can make you stronger to paraphrase the atheist Frederich Nietche.
Our muscles grow by stress. You want big arms, you have lift big weight. You want endurance; you have to do a lot of repetitions. Our whole being is a muscle.
No matter what you are going through, don’t quit. Don’t stop believing in yourself. You can make it. You just have to go one more round. Once you get to the top of the mountain, come on back down and find another. If you have fallen, get up, rest and go again. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Matt 16:26
My God doesn’t make mistakes. My God doesn’t make junk. You were born in adversity. Keep swimming upstream. Because when you stop, either the bear will get you in the shallows, or you just die. He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32
Keep striving. Stay in the fight. Stay in the struggle. It’s not over, till its over. No more pity parties for me. I think I understand now. I think I get it. I wrote down these words for myself for the times when I forget. Frederick Douglass said if there is no struggle there is no progress. Don’t worry about what you don’t get. Don’t worry what others have. Don’t compare yourself with anyone. You are unique. You are the only you there is ever going to be. And its not over till your head hits the dirt.
That’s my epiphany. That is my understanding.
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
Keep praying. Keep striving. Keep on trucking baby.
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Zelle - pastor@SpeakLifeChurch.net
You can support the ministry by check or money order by sending it to Speak Life Church, 14713 Kent Drive, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
Rev. Kenn Blanchard