I am sure that many of us have heard this verse as we have grown up in the church. Or even if you came to faith in the Lord later on in your life, you probably heard this verse quoted. It is one of those verses that we cling to, but I sometimes wonder if we truly believe it.
A family member is diagnosed with cancer. A friend decides to sever ties with you. Your marriage falls apart. Your child rebels. Your family turns against you. These are things that many of us have experienced, at least in part. I am currently going through some of these things. I thought I had met the man of my dreams more than once in my life. I have been rejected by so many people in my life that I sometimes wonder what’s wrong when people are actually accepting of me.
When I am in the midst of difficult situations, I sometimes find myself questioning if I have missed God’s best. Maybe I did something wrong, and now God is punishing me. Or maybe my mistake will thwart God’s will of my life. All these thoughts go through my mind.
Now, why is that the case? After all, the early Christians suffered, so why should I be surprised when God allows suffering to happen to me? I have not been asked at this point to die for my faith (I have sometimes told God that would be easier!). As a Christian, I have not been promised an easy life. So why do I not go back to this verse?
The easiest answer to this is that I have bought into the American church mindset. Everything will be just fine in your life as long as you follow the Bible. Nothing bad will happen, and if it does, then I have done something wrong. My faith isn’t strong enough. I missed God’s will. I sinned.
Let me tell you a story. My daughter and I lived far from home for several years. I went through a terrible divorce, and I was certain that I would never come back to the Pacific Northwest. Imagine my surprise when God brought me back. And He allowed me to go to at least four or five interviews. I was certain that just as in the past, God would provide a full-time job for me. After all, I came home to help my mom out, so I was doing the right thing.
I can remember the day I was driving back from an interview, and I knew I did not get the job. I was afraid for the future, and I nearly convinced myself that I had missed God’s best. God must not have wanted me to come back here. How could it be His will for me to not have a job?
Through being a substitute teacher, God began to bless me. I was certain He would provide a full-time job for the next school year. He did not. And then my family began to fall apart. How could any of this be God’s will? I was sure that I had messed up big time, and now I was reaping the consequences of being out of God’s will.
Remember what the verse says? All things work together for good. This means that even if we miss God’s best, it is no surprise to Him. He is such am amazing God, that He is able to work every single thing in our lives (if we are truly His) for good. And I have some personal evidence to back it up.
A couple years ago, when I discovered that being a substitute teacher could become a way of life for me, I decided to start my own blog. It began slowly, and here, two years later, God has brought my blog to a place where I never could have guessed I would be. My blog has actually been able to make me some extra money. And if nothing else, I have a purpose in life. God has given me a bigger ministry that I ever could have dreamed possible.
Today, I can assure you that had I never faced unemployment and only working part time, I never would have had the time to start this blog. I realize that it is a small example, but isn’t that how God often works? We always look for the miracles and the big things, but God works daily in small ways in our lives. If we aren’t looking for His hand, there is a good chance we will miss Him.
So remember, my friend. If you are truly the child of God, He will cause everything in your life to work together for good. I am not asked to understand that. I am merely asked to accept it by faith. Don’t give up during the hard times. God may just work in a way you hadn’t expected, and He is able to take the worst experience in your life and use it for good.
Ruth Hill is a blogger and substitute teacher in ten Pacific Northwest districts. She lives in Yelm, Washington with her parents and her 9-year-old daughter, Martha.