Pastor Dick Nichols
Cedar Creek Community Church
2969 14 Mile Road, Sparta
You can be sure that at least once in everyone’s life, something so difficult and painful will happen that we will ask “God … why?” So many things in life seem unexplainable; why does a tornado destroy one house and leave another untouched? Why does one brother prosper while another struggles all of his life? Why did the tumor come back when the doctor said he thought he got it all? We all have these types of questions in this life; the list is endless.
Sometimes we encounter circumstances, events and situations that make it seem like the entire world is collapsing around us. Things make no sense at all. And, if there is a purpose behind it, we can’t see it. So, we will turn to the Bible for comfort and read scripture like “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” (Romans 8:28, New International Version).
Before my wife and I accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, there were some painful and difficult events in our family, and we heard this verse quoted to us more than once from well-meaning friends, and we didn’t find any consolation in it. Now that Jesus is our Lord, we have an understanding that we couldn’t have before.
Do all things work together for good? My answer to this question is now an emphatic YES! But there still remains the inevitable question “are all things good?” that can only be answered emphatically NO! The difference is that we know now that the Lord can turn harrowing circumstances around and literally cause everything to work together for good. It’s tough for many of us to grab hold of the idea that God doesn’t let anything go to waste in our lives. He has a purpose and a reason for everything that happens in the lives of his followers and will even use the bad and difficult things to produce good on our behalf.
I do not have to tell you that Romans 8:28 is one of the most beloved verses in the Bible. But there are times when this verse is misused and is thrown at those suffering, as if it could answer every question in life. That is the opposite of what Paul the apostle intended. Some people think that after a tragedy, God will show up and make everything come out o.k. Then, when life’s wrinkles don’t get ironed out, they wonder “where was God when…?”
That is not the biblical view at all. In reality we know now that God is there at the beginning, and God is there at the end, and he is there at every point in between. Simply put, this scripture lets Christians know that God was there before it all happened and he is still there when it is over, and that his plan is to serve a higher purpose and bring about good results.
The Bible never asks us to pretend that tragedy isn’t tragedy, or to pretend that our pain isn’t real. The point is, we must see the active involvement of God in our circumstances. Paul taught, in Romans 5:3-4, that a believer’s faith and character must be refined, purified and tempered in order to grow and reach greater levels of maturity for God so he can make us into what he wants us to be, to do what he has called us to do.
The Lord allows assorted troubles, trials, and temptations to test our faith and spiritual character so that we can grow closer to our Lord. You will never face any trial that you and Jesus cannot overcome. This does not mean that we will evade such trouble; it means that with him, we will be able to bear them.
Scripture does not say that whatever happens is good, or that suffering and evil and tragedy are good, or that we will be able to understand why God allows what he allows in our lives. Instead, God puts a sign over us that reads: “Patience, God is at work.” As in any construction project, don’t judge the end by the beginning.