I’m not sure if I’ve written about this before, or if I’ve just talked about it with people. Sometimes I seriously can’t remember if I’ve dreamed something or if it actually happened. So instead of going back through old posts to see if I have, I’m just going to write about it now (again, maybe?)
‘Good for me’ vs. ‘For my good’
I can’t get past this idea of something being “for my good.” In the past year or so, I’ve started to deeply and more fully believe Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” In the past, I think I’ve had a bad attitude about this verse. I’ve equated it with the well-meaning, but really hard to take, people that say things like, “Everything happens for a reason.” Yes. I know that. But this-thing-I-really-don’t-like is still very real and your non-helpful platitudes make me want to roll my eyes like the 14 year old girl that I still am, deep down inside.
I’ve always had a hard time with this verse because I’ve put it in the category of what is “good for me,” like eating my vegetables or sweeping the floor. Trials (or chores) are necessary because they’re building character and saving me from a life of bad nutrition and dirty feet. I have an attitude that says, “I don’t like this, you can’t make me like this, but I will do it anyway because I have to.” Lots of resentment with a healthy dose of childish thinking thrown in for good measure.
But recently, I’ve begun to think about Romans 8:28 differently. For one thing, this verse is smack dab in the middle of Romans chapter 8, which is not exactly about eating your vegetables and liking it. The first chunk (verses 1-11) talks about how there is no condemnation if we are in Christ Jesus. It says that the Spirit of God dwells in us and will give life to our mortal bodies. Verses 18-25 are full of encouragement about our real hope and where it lies, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” The part after verse 28 (verses 31-37) is just beautiful with Paul saying things like, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
Paul could have said something like, Look, life is hard, but this is good for you. Everything happens for a reason, and even though you don’t know what that reason is, be glad that God knows. Stop complaining and just get on with your life– after all, there’s someone out there suffering more than you.
But Paul didn’t say that. Hallelujah(!), he didn’t say that. Do you see the Gospel logic in what he wrote in Romans 8? He starts by reminding us that God has “done what the law could not do.” There is no more condemnation for us; “the law of the Spirit of life has set us free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” He paints a beautiful picture of future glory where “creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.” He talks about how the Spirit helps us in our weakness and intercedes for us “with groanings too deep for words.”
And then he gets to the part about all things working together for our good.
This is how I’ve come think of things being “for my good.” No longer isolated instances of things I don’t like and have to struggle through, but instead part of the bigger picture of what Christ has done, and the Spirit is doing, in my life. Remembering where my hope is and thinking on eternal things, instead of earthly things, has shifted my perspective. Preparing my heart by “preaching the Gospel” to myself daily, sometimes hourly, has been huge for how I think about this verse.
Over the past few months, when life has been difficult and full of things I would rather not deal with, the refrain that’s been bouncing around in my head has been, “It’s for my good. This, too, is for my good.” But far from being a trite remark that I easily dismiss, those words are now laced with deep meaning. They remind me that I have a Father in Heaven who is kind and generous and, by giving his own son to save me from myself, has already given me everything. Those words remind me that, though this circumstance may be difficult, it cannot take away my true Hope. The words “for my good” are comforting and strengthening, reminding me that I am not alone, for as Paul ends chapter 8, he says:
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Amen, and amen.