All Things Work for Good
This Sunday’s second reading from Romans contains one of my favorite lines from Scripture: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” This line strikes me so powerfully because I need to really hear and embrace its message.
I am often tempted to feel like things aren’t working toward my good – cars break down, work deadlines cause stress, people I love get sick and even die. I start to lapse into old ways of thinking from my childhood, that is, that bad things are happening because God is punishing me.
The Punishing God Myth
When I was growing up, guilt was a normal part of life. It wasn’t the result of any one person putting a guilt trip on us; it was just part of the rural Catholic culture I was raised in. It was based on the worst of the Old Testament images of a punishing God.
Did you miss your prayers? God is going to get you!
Did you cheat on a test? You will probably lose your next tennis match.
We sort of assumed the worst about ourselves and about God. The problem is, this sort of thinking makes you live just to avoid getting into trouble rather than thinking about doing something great for God!
Will the Real God Please Stand Up?
How foolish this old understanding of God! What a lack of trust in the goodness and faithfulness of God! Yet old ways of thinking die hard. I have found two new ways of thinking that are helpful in understanding what God is really like.
First, we have to realize that God sees the big picture. The verse from Romans says that all things work for good – the ultimate good – that at the end of our lives and at the end of time all will be made right. But there will be many setbacks and bumps in the road along the way.
Second, this promise is made for those who love God and are called – and respond – according to God’s purpose. We cannot experience all the goodness God has in store for us if we love God half-heartedly or continually compromise the way we live our lives. We have to be like the people Jesus uses as examples in the Gospel. They were willing to give up everything they had to obtain their treasure.
For if we totally commit ourselves to loving God and living as if God’s Kingdom is here right now – because it is – we will experience all the goodness that the kingdom of God has in store for us.
Where do you see things working for good in your life? In the world?
Are you willing to completely commit yourself to living the Kingdom of God?
Is there anything holding you back from completely committing to whatever you feel God is calling you to do?
Original article by Brian Singer-Towns, 2005 – 2020.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.