Thursday, June 28, 2012

For the Greater Good

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.

Romans 8:28.  Possibly one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible {along with Jeremiah 29:11 and Philippians 4:13}. We love to slap it on anything from coffee mugs, t-shirts, and Get Well cards... to water bottles, home decor items and bumper stickers. It is a verse that is used often by well- meaning believers to comfort those currently walking through great difficulty. I myself am guilty of misusing and misunderstanding the meaning of this complex statement made by the Apostle Paul.

 "... God causes all things to work together for good..." 
{emphasis mine}

I must confess to you... when I have read, quoted, or even prayed this verse over others, the good that I was often referring to in my mind, was my own plan. The outcome desired. What thought to be the best course of action. How thought God should intervene on someone's behalf. How I envisioned God to move, etc. Because after all, the good that I have envisioned is what is best for me and those I love, right? Right??


This is not the good that Paul was speaking of, for he was referring to something far greater.

If you continue reading, Paul reveals to us in verse 29 that "those who love God and are called according to His purpose" (v. 28) are also called "to become conformed to the image of His Son..." 

So, if the "good" that Paul is referring to in verse 28 equates to being "conformed to the image of Christ," we can conclude that God will cause {or allow} events/people/illness/circumstances/ {fill in the blank here} to come into our life in order to make us more like JesusAnd for Paul, being molded and shaped into the image of Christ was the greatest good that could ever happen to us, regardless of which form it takes. But take heart, and rejoice my dear friend! For the Lord desires to use the circumstances in your life to draw you ever so closely to Him! Especially the hard ones. Especially the difficult ones. Especially the painful ones.

I'm speaking from my own experience when I say this; "it is most often in the midst of the storms of life that we cling to the One who created it." I'd like to believe that when all is well in my life, that I would cling to Jesus the way that I do when all is not well.... or at least from my perspective, things are not well. However, I have proven time and time again that that is just not the case. When life is going as expected... I depend on my own strength more, and Jesus less. I look to fulfill my desires, not the Lord's. I give myself a pat on the back when I encounter victories, instead of giving the Lord the credit He is due. When all is well in my life, I have a tendency to act as though I have no need for God. 

But when life is hard... I hold on to Jesus as though my life greatly depended on it. 

And I believe that this is what the Lord desires of me. Only this is what the Lord desires of me all the time- not just when my circumstances are challenging or painful.  I'm learning to embrace and even treasure life's challenges, because those are the seasons when my relationship with Jesus is the sweetest. The most tender. They are also the seasons when I bloom and am transformed. It is my heart's cry that I can one day echo Paul's words when he said, "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances..." {Philippians 4:11, NASB} So, whether I am currently walking through a season of abundance or a season of need. Whether I am suffering from an autoimmune disorder or my health has been completely restored. Whether that promotion takes place or not. Whether my hair continues to thin and fall out or it is restored to its former luster. Whether our adoption journey takes place now, or years from now. To God be the glory! Because whatever the circumstances... it is my hope that God will mold me and shape me into the image of His Son in the process. For that is the greatest good.

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