The Wednesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a Scriptural meditation whereby I take a verse or passage I have been pondering lately and seek to edify my readers with it’s promises, encouragements, warnings, rebukes, etc.
If you knew my Grandpa, you knew a thankful, gracious, kind, uncritical man of God. Not everyone enduring the types of physical challenges he faced in recent years would have such an attitude. So it begs the question – what makes a man react that way to difficulties? And if you want to know why he was such a man, you probably don’t need to look much further than his favorite verse – “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).
My Grandpa was not known as being a fault-finder and that is someone who understands that God can use everything to “work together for good.” Someone who does not criticize others may see that person’s faults but he also understands and loves that God will still use that person despite their weaknesses. He knows that God can work “good” out of that person.
The Apostle Paul was confident of this truth, because he had experienced it in his own life as God used the beatings, the shipwrecks, and the days without food and water “for good.” The Apostle Paul also knew he wasn’t the only one who could testify about God using “all things” to “work together for good.” Think about some of the things God used in the Bible for “good”: a burning bush for Moses’ good, a talking donkey to restrain Balaam, a great fish to protect Jonah from himself, or a selection of five fish and two loaves for a multitude of people. God is in the business of using “all things” – all types of things – to “work together for good.”
My Grandpa knew God worked things together for good. My Grandpa’s confidence could be likened to the Apostle Paul’s in Romans 8:28. The Apostle Paul said, “We know.” The Apostle Paul was absolutely convinced; there was no doubt in his mind. The Apostle Paul didn’t say, “Well, I think God could figure this one out” or “I hope He knows what to do here” or “He just might work good out of this one.” The Apostle Paul says, “We know.” This is why you never sense panic in the Apostle Paul. And if you knew my Grandpa, he never panicked either. He knew God was going to “work together for good.” And like my Grandpa, the Apostle Paul was not critical.
But the Apostle Paul says that this ability to know that God works this way and to experience His good working first-hand is for those who “love God.” Those who are His children have the unique perspective of seeing it all work for good.
Let me illustrate. There are some who attend funerals and memorial services and find very little “good.” They are there because something terrible has happened – death. Some people come because they have lost a loved one or close friend and their absence is an awful reality and they cannot imagine that anyone could see good come out of such a loss. But for the one who loves God, to be absent from the body is to present with the Lord (II Cor 5:8). For the one who loves God, precious is the death of His saints (Ps 116:15). For the one who loves God, death has no sting (I Cor 15:57). For the one who loves God, he can face or look at death and find good.
The person who doesn’t love God can’t make much sense out of death. At this very moment, my Grandpa has made sense out of death. He is experiencing the best of good that has come out of death. His body has been restored, rejuvenated and purified. He is with His Creator beginning an endless time of fellowship without the curses on his body. He is seeing all that is “good” for those that “love God” (e.g., cartwheels – kicking soccer balls). Only God can make death “good” and the Apostle Paul understood this. My Grandpa understood this. And we can understand it as well.
The Apostle Paul says that God will “work together all things.” He synergizes it or causes all things to cooperate in our lives for good. He doesn’t say good comes out of us but that God works good out of us and even our evil.
One of the most treasured gifts I received from my Grandpa is his collection of sermon transcripts and notes. And this past week, I was reading his sermons on Romans 8:28 and I thought I would share with you his words on this point. Here is my Grandpa explaining how things work together for good.
“You may not be able to see the end result now; it may take time to see it. How does God make all things work together for good? Because He knows the end from the beginning. When God does go to work, things get done and it will not be randomly put together. It will work … perfectly.”
God doesn’t make a mistake or cause an accident. He never says everything is good this side of the Fall but God can most certainly bring good out of it.
My Grandpa loved Romans 8:28, because He loved this truth that God plans and orchestrates. He loved serving a God who governed His life. He loved serving a God who could take even a sinner like my Grandpa and mold into a good and faithful servant (Matt 25:23). He loved serving a God who saw evil as an opportunity to bring about good.
And this is the only way I can perceive of people like the Apostle Paul or my Grandpa who were consistently thankful and gracious. People who live their lives like my Grandpa know these truths, look through life and have nothing to complain about, because it’s God’s world and it is a good world that even evil cannot ultimately conquer.