If the news isn’t bad enough, stuff happening to people close to home seems almost paralyzing at times.
- A church friend recently diagnosed with cancer that just keeps getting worse….
- A family member’s mother and a church friend sliding deep into Alzheimer's...
- A young couple, both with advanced degrees, struggle to find steady work to support their growing family
- A once-close family is divided by a jest taken badly
- Friends whose son needs specialized care are engaged in a draining, expensive multi-year legal battle with care providers, insurers and employers to merely honor their own policies
- Marking the deaths of my mother and brother, both in their 40’s
- Teens and young adults we know facing years of challenge to overcome momentary judgment lapses
- Responsible, hard-working people barely able to pay their basic bills
Why is life so difficult? Where is God? How do we respond, to pray?
My wife and I are reading a book by Aaron Sharp, “I didn’t sign up for this - navigating life’s detours.” Says, Sharp, “Anyone who had been on a detour for any amount of time has probably gotten tired of having sincere people quote Romans 8:28 to them: ‘We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who are called according to His purpose.’” (NASB)
“The verse can be a great encouragement,” he notes, “but often we misread it. The verse says that God causes’ everything to work for good, but it does not mean that only good things will happen to us.”
I would add interpretations I've heard, that God always causes. Most often, I believe He merely allows stuff to happen that He then works for the good of those called according to His purpose.
In other words, we're always covered and can be assured of emerging safely according to God who loves us even more than we love ourselves.
He (Jesus) knows us far better than we know ourselves, … and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. (Romans 8:27-28, MSG)
Kind of like a benevolent boss who allows his workers to make mistakes then works with them to achieve correction and learning that credits himself and benefits the workers and company.
Of course, no boss rivals God who operates on an infinite scale unbound by time or space.
Nearly three years ago, I was drawn into a story that was triggered by something that happened more than 60 years earlier. Turns out that happening significantly shaped my life even though I only recently learned about it.
A friend familiar with the story marveled, “God works in mysterious ways!”
As I reconcile what happened and the varying emotions of others impacted by it, I realize that what was not seen as good long ago ultimately resulted in much good for many. As I come to grips with it all, I can certainly agree that God works in mysterious ways.
That God either allows or causes everything to happen doesn’t exactly explain WHY stuff happens but if the love of God is in us, leaning into Him when stuff happens should give us enormous strength and comfort.
And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect…. Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. (1 John 4:17a-18, NLT)
When stuff happens, God’s got us.
Works for me!