Monday, July 31, 2017

Good From Bad.

How has your summer been? Full of so many summery things that you wish it could last forever? Full of so many summery things that you have actually had your fill and are ready for fall? Too short? Too long? Not what you expected? Mine falls in that last category.

I had a certain type of summer planned out in my mind back at the end of May. Then…I’m sure you know what happened next…life happened. Family things came up, ministry things came up, all sorts of things came up! Some good, some not so good, and all unexpected. The hardest thing was definitely my husband breaking his ribs in late June. Boooo. And hissssss. And booooo again. Obviously the boos and hisses are for all the pain he has been in, but also for all the plans that had to be put on hold. But you know, that is only part of the story.

The other part is that I had my husband home alone for a couple of weeks with—wait for it!—nothing to do. Nothing. To. Do. This is unheard of! And it was doctor’s orders, which of course makes it official! And it was something unexpectedly bad that was turned to an unexpected good. I love when that happens. You start to be so mad at a circumstance or situation, so angry that it happened to you, then God starts to show you the good that He can bring from it. He is so great like that. He can turn things around.

Romans 8:28 tells us God does that exact thing. I realize this sounds like a pat answer to many people. “Going through a hard time? Hey, its okay! God will just turn that sucker around for good!” Of course we don’t want someone to gloss over our hard times, toss out a Bible verse to us, and move on thinking it will fix all our ills. Or to imply that our hard times aren’t that hard because one day it will be better. Of course not. We are called to love. Love is action. Love is getting off our high horse and getting into the ditch with people. But I really do want to be loved with God’s Word. I really do want you to bring His Word in the ditch with when you come for me.

In case you don’t know the verse, it says, “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.” And it is absolutely true. And I absolutely need to be reminded of it over and over and over. He does this, this bringing good from bad, for me because He loves me. And I need to be reminded of that.

Certainly my husband’s broken ribs are not as heartbreaking and life-draining and breath-stealing as what many of you are going through. I, however, have walked through other kinds of hell these past couple of years. Dark times. Hard times. Feeling like my nose is just barely above the water while the rest of me is sinking times. And that verse? It gave me hope. Reason to breathe. What a reminder that HE IS HERE. He is real. He sees the horrible times, the somewhat horrible times, the laughably horrible times, and the good times as well, and holds all of them in His hands. I need to remember during all of these times that He’s watching. He’s gonna love me through it. He knows.

A few chapters later in Romans we get these words in verse 9:Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” And then verse 15 tells us, “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.” We’re called to act like God, so I have to believe this is how God is to His children. He is happy with us in the good times. He weeps with us in the bad. And, yes, He works all of the times out for our good in the end. That doesn’t mean it will all tie up with a bow and a happy ending. It doesn’t mean every event will be explained to us. But it does mean that, as the Message Bible puts it, “…we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” He can work unimaginable pain into peace. He can heal emotional wounds. Scars that no one else can see can be soothed. It's possible, but only with God.

I understand that people want others to keep cliché sayings to themselves. Sometimes we just can’t help it in hard times. We want to say something, but don’t know what to say. Our motives may not be bad, but our words can be questionable. Not so with the Word of God. The motive is always His love for us. He only thinks good thoughts toward us, never evil ones. He sees us through the eyes of His Beloved Son Jesus if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior. If you haven’t, you can ask Jesus into your heart right now—give your heart to Him and ask Him to forgive you for the ways you’ve lived your life wrong, ask Him to lead you from now on. It's not complicated, it's not a religious thing. It's entering into the relationship you’ve been waiting your whole life for. (And if you want a little direction for what’s next, click here.)

So the motive. It's always good. And God’s Word? It can never be reduced to a cliché. It is living and active. It is for our good.

The summer was different than I thought. At first glance, not good different. But it sure turned out to be pretty amazing. Good from bad. I’m thankful for the reminder.