And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.Ah ... sigh. Just hearing it is pleasant. What a marvelous promise! The question, however, is whether or not we believe it.
Most of us have bad things that happen in our lives. From uncomfortable circumstances to downright disasters, things happen to "those who love God" all the time. Now, standing out here, where it's not going on in my life, that promise is glorious. You know, ready and available for when one of those things actually occurs. But when one of those things occurs, do we believe it? Because I can tell you from personal experience that "all things" do not seem to be good, especially when you're in it.
So, we have to wonder. Does it exclude, for instance, those things I've done? "Sure, God can work those things together for good, but I've done some real doozies." Does it perhaps mean "all things work together for good based on a version of good I cannot grasp"? Or maybe it's an "escape clause", where "If it doesn't appear good to you, you must not love God." Maybe we'd say, "Well, it's true, perhaps, but who could ever know (or fully trust) God's purpose?" Oh, and let's not forget that God states His purpose.
For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Rom 8:29)"Conformed to the image of His Son." Let's see ... mocked, beaten, crucified ... do we really want to be conformed to that image?
I think there is a gap between the promises we embrace when we don't need them and the promises we question when we do. We're happy to hear, for instance, "God is faithful, and He will not let you be tested beyond your ability, but with the trial He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." (1 Cor 10:13) Nice. But how many of us have been in the midst of a trial thinking, "This sure is beyond my ability! Where's the escape?" We comfort others when they're suffering with "All things work together for good" and then get a bit miffed when the "all things" we're in the midst of don't look good at all and someone offers us the same comfort.
The question is what will you believe? Believing these precious promises when it's easy is, well, easy. They are a lot harder to believe when we need them most. So what will you believe? Like the punchline in the bad joke, "Who are you going to believe; me or your own eyes?" Who are you going to believe; God or your own feelings? Because if we're honest we must admit that it doesn't always feel like the circumstances we're in will work together for good or even conform us to the image of His Son or are in the least inside our ability.
So, who are you going to believe? Yourself or your God?