..... we recently took a road trip where nothing went according to my plans. Not a darn thing. I was frustrated, anxious, and even a bit irritated with God that my plans had been so hijacked. As I was licking my wounds on Monday morning, doing all the laundry that comes home with you after a road trip, and pondering how the frustrating things that happened on that trip could be considered good, it occurred to me that I had Romans 8:28 completely wrong. I've always read that as "God only sends good thing to His people." Um, I don't think so.
This past year has been really, really hard for a whole bunch of reasons I won't go into here, but very few of the things that happened to make it hard are "good". I haven't been totally truthful with myself, but I've been getting angrier and angrier with God for all the hard things when I was believing He had promised me nothing but good. Which meant, to me, that when a hard thing came, I had to be happy about it because it had to be good somehow.
On Monday, I finally gave myself permission (or maybe the Holy Spirit did when He whispered this truth to my heart) to see all the hard things as bad. They are bad. We live in a sinful, fallen world and there is no way that everything that happens to us is good. But, we can't stay there just knowing that the things are bad because it will only cause us to harden our hearts, which is not at all fruitful or even good for us. Ever been around someone with a heart hardened by life? Not fun. I tend to avoid those people, don't you?
Here is God's promise in Romans 8:28 ".... in all things God works for the good of those who love Him....." (emphasis mine!). He doesn't promise me all good things. How can I share in the sufferings of Christ if all things coming down the pipe of my life are grand? But, my heavenly Father, who cares me for me as tenderly as I tend to my newborn babies, promises me that He will take the yucky, tainted things that happen to me and weave them into something that is good for me. I can swallow that pill far more easily than trying to drum up false joy at the next trial that comes my way because I'm believing a lie that I have to find all things good. Guess who whispered that lie to me for 34 years? And, I fell for it.
Not any more. I'm going to trust my Father the way I teach my children to trust me. I have something I do around here when I've made a decision the kids don't like and their mouths gape open in horror that I would deny them some joy or pleasure that they desire. I get right on their level and ask them, "Does mama love you? Does mama want good things for you? Please trust me, I have a plan." A lot of times, it actually works and the child calms down enough to listen to mama remind them of times it looked like mama was destroying their hopes and dreams, but really had better things waiting in the wings for them.
I can almost hear Him audibly, "Have I ever failed you? You can trust me even when it seems like you can't. I know something you don't know yet. I have a plan for you, to prosper you and not to harm you. I will never hurt you."(Jeremiah 29:11) Maybe I can start to listen a bit. Isn't it interesting that His actual requirements are not nearly as harsh as I make them out to be when I am throwing a spiritual temper tantrum? We can trust Him. His yoke is easy and His burden is light (see Matt 11:28-30). Throw off the temptation to approach God like the Israelites in the desert and allow Him to draw you close as Jesus did the small children.