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24 July 2008

All Things are Not Good

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
- Romans 8:28 (NLT)

All things are not good. I believe that is a meaning that people want to invoke with this verse, or maybe it's just a wish, that can be detrimental to the faith of a Christ-follower.

God doesn't cause me to sin -- sin is a bad thing. However, if I recognize my sin, turn away from it, and love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, that's where He begins to cause things and situations, whether bad or good, to work for His good purposes. His good purposes are good in the life of a Christ-follower.

Trying to make it through a fiery, painful trial by thinking, "The Bible says all things work together for good. What is good about this?" will probably not result in seeing good in the situation (but it may have the effect of making us start to think that Paul got it wrong when he recorded God's Word in Romans). Perseverance in our love for God, and in our obedience, through the worst that life has to offer is the only way to see the good that He will bring as a result. But how do we do that?

This is where we see that we can't take verses from the Bible in "microscope mode." Add this to the one above: "Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2, NLT)


mandy said...

my husband and i just went through a surprising and painful personal loss.

in the moment, knowing God would work it for "good" just didn't comfort me.

but, now, after the emotions have settled and the questions of "why?" are still around, i find rest in looking forward to the "good" that might come from this... trying real hard to take God at His word this time.

Billy Chia said...

Great thoughts. A lot to times bad things happen and they are bad. They are sin and there are no redemptive qualities about it. God, however, is so huge and so powerful He can even bend Satan to His will. Just because God used it in the end doesn't make that bad thing that happened good. It makes it a bad thing that a good God used for good.

Dean Lusk said...

I'm sorry, Mandy. That's one of the things I fear when making a post like this. Always paranoid of reminding someone of, or rubbing someone's nose into, a personal situation, and of course that's not the intent.

Patience and perseverance have never been particularly strong suits of mine, but when the good eventually comes, I've found it to be a great reward (sometimes a "reward" for my messing up, which gives great meaning to the words "mercy" and "grace" for me).

Billy, the word "huge" for God is an excellent one! I'm sitting on my deck gazing up at some massively large, intensely hot burning balls of gas that He made. :) You meant something different, sure, but "huge" always strikes me when I look at the night sky.

Leroy said...

“We find it difficult to trust God when we can’t figure out why he would allow certain uncomfortable things to happen to us. Interestingly, we don’t seem to wonder about God when He allows good things into our lives.” - Max Lucado from the "The Gospel of John". His Life Lessons series.

One thing I continue to learn is we have to praise God on the mountain top and in the valley. Quite difficult to do sometimes. But if we surround ourselves with Godly friends (to include our spouse), the road is much less rocky.

Preston N said...

I have found one of the biggest problem people have is trying to reconcile tragedy or evil in this world with a loving God and His foreknowledge. What people can not get past is the logical contradiction this creates. On one hand God is supposes to be loving, but yet how do we reconcile this with him knowing the absolute future?

How is it that if God's truly knows the entire future from the beginning of time (all the sin and evil included) then how can we reconcile this? If God knew evil was going to happen from Creation, why doesn't he stop it? Why did he go ahead and create a person whom he knew from the beginning would grow up to be a murderer? Or how could He create a child whom He knew from the beginning would suffer and die of an aggressive cancer and leave two parents empty and suffering?

So often we as Christians want to come along and explain everything by making nice little expressions or try to fit God in some box. We say things like, "oh you just wait and see God has a wonderful plan out of this tragedy - just you wait and see". But the reality is this does little to comfort the person going through the tragedy or would explain why would God need to use evil in order for good to come of it?

I have even heard some say God foreordains all things for his glory and that "God's ways are not our ways" and therefore what appears to be evil from our stand point is indeed good from God's perspective. How then do we know Heaven isn't really hell or Hell isn't really heaven? Again, I know when I hear this kinda of stuff my logic meter is pegged to "contradiction" and I just tune out.

Dean - When you said: "Perseverance in our love for God, and in our obedience, through the worst that life has to offer is the only way to see the good that He will bring as a result.'

I get the impression that your saying that evil or bad things must occur in order for us to appreciate or understand the good. This would be like saying we need to have rape in order to appreciate the sanctity of marriage or we need murder to appreciate life. Would you be willing to say God needs Satan for us to appreciate Him? For me to say that God needs to "bend the will" of Satan in order for good to come in the universe grossly violates the Law of Non-Contradiction here and leaves me a little empty. Again, I might be mis-reading this so I hope you can clarify a little further.

Dean Lusk said...

"I get the impression that your saying that evil or bad things must occur in order for us to appreciate or understand the good."

Did I really give that impression from what I said? If so, I didn't expound upon my thoughts very well. No, I don't believe that's true at all.

Why can't we appreciate good stuff just because it's good stuff? We don't need the contrast of ugliness to see good any more than God needs Satan to prove that He's powerful. That wasn't the direction of my post, nor of anyone's comments, as far as I can tell. Apologies if the post was taken that way!

Leroy said...

I didn't read it as you saying the only way to see God's goodness is for bad things to occur. In the overall context of the post, I read it as WHEN something bad happens, we have to choose to focus on God. When we focus on God, we begin to look for Him to turn something bad into something good.

I didn't see it as a blanket statement saying only good comes from bad.

Preston N said...

Dean - no apology at all necessary. I guess what threw me was the statement you made that I referenced in my post. I interpreted this differrly so I truly appreciate the explaination.

I am particularly sensitive to this topic as so often people want to somehow explain evil as being a "necessary evil" from God. Tragedy is just that - its a trajedy. For many years I could never reconcile how evil and a loving God could exist and it really hampered my relationship with God - to the point of being angry and untrusting of Him. When I read of a trajedy I cringe of how many Christians will come out using Rom 8:28 as a catch all phrase. If I seemed a little overly sensitive please forgive me as its a deep scar and one I want to try and prevent others from having. Thansk for your patience!

Preston N said...

Ummm - I meant Tragedy not Trajedy.

Dean Lusk said...

That Scripture requires some real examination, hopefully along the lines of what I started in the post.

I made a brief comment in the original post that trying to force oneself to believe that everything (like sin, in my post) is caused by God -- and is good -- can be detrimental to the faith of a Christ-follower. That's exactly along the lines of what you're talking about, and I can totally understand the sensitivity.

While you and I don't come down on the exact same side of all issues where this is concerned, you've made some very thought-provoking posts on this subject over at your place.

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