I have to confess: I have been weighing, contemplating, and replaying that verse in my head over and over again during the past 10 days. I’ve said on the elevators, in the commute to Chapel Hill, and in the walks around the Children’s Hospital: “God is working it together for good.” I’ve said it audibly and silently within my spirit so much I almost have to get my mind off of it to address other things.
Then, I see the highlights on the news last night, and this latest shooting incident that occurred at the high school in Ohio. Three young lives were taken. The day before, it was the terrible U.S. Marine helicopter accident in Arizona during training exercises. This past weekend it was the housefire in Jacksonville which took the lives of 3 young siblings. Then, I am back to my youngest son, who is mounting a fight against a horrific disease: cancer. And with all of these things in my heart, and so many more happening in real time, each day, I come back to Romans 8:28 and what Paul states in the fabric of this 8th Chapter.
It’s right in the heart of some rich teaching. Paul is not making a conditional statement or one that is a half-truth. He is claiming that in all things, even in the ugliest things of this life, God will work it together for good. Why? Because He is just, and holy, and perfect! Even when we are frustrated, tired, angry, and weak — we must know that these things are a result of living in a world that is broken by sin. Not one of us can avoid suffering. There is pain, and heartbreak, and anxiety all around. But the key is this: As a part of Christ’s body, we cannot allow the pain to lead us to bitterness. In fact, it is in the times of peril and strife that we must “shine the light” even brighter. I am not saying that is easy; it is not. But the alternative is not optional: We can not give up, give in, or cater to the problems that sin has birthed.
In my estimation, bitterness is a deadly poison that will eat you alive. It’s a disease of the heart and will distance anyone from God’s intimate and personal presence if we cave into it. The past 10 days or so have impacted my family in ways that will leave a lasting impact this side of glory. We have had to talk about and consider things that I never thought would be a topic of discussion. We cried. We cried some more. We cried even more after that. My heart has bled for Eli and what was in store in this treatment plan. Then, we were admitted into the Children’s Hospital at Chapel Hill and started walking down the hall, only to see dozens of other children suffering from a multitude of things: major heart problems; burns; cancer; M.S.; Failing kidneys and livers; etc. We cried. We cried even more.
Yet, there is Romans 8, v.28, shining like a light on a moonless night: “And we know in all things (in every situation and circumstance), that God works for the good of those who love Him…” The prayer of my heart is that our faith would increase; that it would not waver, only growing stronger and more courageous. That is my prayer for you, too — no matter what type of challenge, or situation, or life experience you now find yourself in. Remember, He is with us. He will never leave us, nor forsake us. He is the Friend Who sticks closer than a brother, or a sister, or a mother, or a father. He is the mighty One Who saves!
That promise, that hope, has been a beacon for us. We know that His presence is a known reality on the children’s wing here at Chapel Hill. We know that His presence is a known reality in every situation of our lives, no matter where we are or what we may be facing. Coupled with that is how He places us alongside one another as His dearly loved children, to be witnesses of His love, mercy, and grace to one another. And I want to be clear here: You have been His instruments to us, in this time. I can’t say that enough or communicate it fully in words alone. Just know how truly grateful we are to God (first) and to you (second).
May our faith grow and increase. May His goodness and will be done. And may we be on the inside of what He is accomplishing, and doing, as He works it all together for good.
You are loved much!