You know what's interesting? I actually don't have Romans 8:28 highlighted in my Bible. Is that strange? I have about 6 verses before this one highlighted but not verse 28.
As I started thinking about that, I started to wonder about what I understand about that scripture: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (ESV) My instant reaction to this is "well, that's debatable!" For most of my life I have seen others hardly attempt something and make it so far. I have seen really great plans I've made collapse right before the finish line, and time and time again of things like this happening, have made me feel defeated. I often wonder if I hear from God or if I'm just making things up. Why is it that others zoom right past me and I'm always in the back? This is such a strange place to live in. I do not have low self-esteem neither am I a self-pity person (ask my husband!) but I am a realist, and have come to see a lot of my reality and life to be this way.
A few months ago I was at a conference and they were handing out shirts, as I waited in line for mine I grabbed it and noticed the seaming was coming off the side of the shirt, I politely walked over and said "I'm so sorry, can I get another shirt? The seam is coming off this one." The lady was very kind and said "yes of course! That's so weird, we've handed out hundreds of shirts and this is the first one I've seen like this." I smiled and said "its ok, this happens to me a lot!" I think she thought I was being negative because she immediately said "don't say that! God loves you!" I responded by saying "I know, and sometimes he shows me like this." She was very confused, ha! I hope some of you can relate to stories like this because the more I talk to people the more I learn this is a lot of our stories.
I actually believe God is showing me love when hard, strange, difficult things happen to me and I feel like when I share that sentiment with others they think I'm being morbid, ha! Why? Is it possible that in our nature we want to believe that good things = good behavior or an easy life = a good relationship with God?
I think so. I think that's what a lot of our culture believes and I think it's simmered its way into Christian culture. We need to fight against the urge to believe that only good things should happen to us, because that's a lie. Now, this is what I'm NOT saying. I'm not saying good things do not happen to us, I'm saying good things don't ALWAYS happen to us.
Let's think about some people in the Bible where only good things happen to them........... can you think of anyone?
I think of people who lived very difficult lives full of pain, despair, fear, and failure. The difference? They came out on the other side of it stronger, more faithful, and closer to God. This is where Romans 8:28 plays into this equation:
Me + Jesus (difficult things x good things) - my purpose = Romans 8:28
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (ESV)
Have you ever heard that saying "it will all work out?" I know I have heard it a bunch of times and I find myself rolling my eyes and asking "HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT?!" Well, maybe I should start saying "Yes, but God will work it out for His purpose, not mine."
I don't know about you, but I'm going to go highlight that scripture in my Bible today with a little side note that says "MARYANN, God will work this out, for real."
I don't know if you've been a victim of the Las Vegas shooting, suffered through the painful effects of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, maybe you're still trying to get your life organized after hurricane Irma, or maybe you're like me and received some really life changing news. We are living in a world that's difficult, yet surrounded by a golden trim that we sometimes get lucky enough to get a glimpse of.
I hope you find the strength to hope blindly for the things you cannot see. I'm standing right by you!
Maryann has made a career out of serving youth in some of the poorest neighborhoods in South Florida and Las Vegas. As a first generation American, she has a passion for helping students achieve dreams that they once saw as impossible. She hopes to continue to minister to children and their families for as long as God allows her. Maryann currently lives in Plantation, Florida with her husband and daughter.