Today, as I write, our Country and much of the western world is reeling in a deep economic recession. There is an unsettled feeling in the air that the wheels are coming off of our society, our lives, and our future.
In the midst of this present confusion, what are we to make of Scripture like Romans 8:28 which promise us that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose? (Rom. 8:28). The question is what are the things of which God is speaking? They are spelled out in the 10 verses preceding Romans 8:28, and can be summed up as lifes suffering, frustration, inward groaning, weakness, and confusion of not knowing what to pray for.
Most of us are surprised to learn that the good that God works for those who love him does not refer to or personal comfort, but to our inward transformation into the likeness of Christ (verse 29). Listen to Vernon Grounds on this:
If we are exempt from disease, if our bodies are never stabbed by pain, if we always have money in our pockets or reserve in the bank, if we live in modern homes and enjoy the latest luxuries, if we can dress well and take long vacations at the seashorethat we consider good. Unfortunately we find ourselves victimized by a materialistic civilization, and despite our Christian faith we subtly equate comfort and goodness. In the same way we tend to equate success with goodnessAnd yet such equations are a million miles removed from Pauls conception of the good, changes what ought to be a soft pillow for our hearts into a hard problem for our heads.
But there are conditions as to who qualifies for this good work God is doing in the lives of His children. According to verse 28, it is for (1) Those who love God – which speaks of relationship, and (2) for Those who have been called according to his purpose – which speaks of partnership.
Josephs tragic life of being betrayed into slavery by his brothers, and being accused and unjustly imprisoned as a rapist, serves as a powerful example of the good God was working out in his character in preparing him as God s instrument to save a nation. Years later it became obvious that Joseph had grasped the same principle embodied in Romans 8:18-29 when he stated to his brothers, You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives (Gen. 20:50).
QUESTION: Do you believe at your very core that God, in his sovereignty arranges the circumstances in your life to chisel you into the image of Christ? Perhaps you would join me in a prayer penned by Epictetus1 some two thousand years ago, Deal with me as Thou wilt from now on. I am as one with Thee; I am Thine; I flinch from nothing so long as Thou dost think that it is good. Lead me where Thou wilt; put on me what raiment Thou wilt. Wouldst Thou have me hold office or eschew it, stay or flee, be rich or poor? For this I will defend Thee before all men.
This week may you experience His grace, peace and protection.
R. Dwight Hill