“I will never get over this!” Really? That’s just what I used to think about all kinds of awful, evil stuff that had wrecked my life. But the Spirit of the Lord wouldn’t leave me alone. He kept reminding me about the promise of Romans 8:28. You know, the one which says that we know that God is working all things together for our good.
Well, I didn’t know it. I couldn’t see how my past could possibly be made to work for my good. I told God, “There’s a mountain of ruin back there. It will take me forever to process all of that pain and brokenness!” In the quiet that followed my outburst, I seemed to hear Him say, “If that’s the case, then you need to go ahead and get started.”
They say a mountain can be moved one bucket full at a time. That is certainly the way it seemed for me. It was slow, hard going at first with a very feeble faith in the hope of the promise to guide me. I have to admit, however, that a certain excitement grew as I began to realize that one hated, hurt-filled event after another slowly became a place of joy and wonder as the pain that once filled it was replaced by a faith expectation of good things to come. Nowadays, I am shoveling away with genuine anticipation whenever fresh manure comes down.
In our seminars I sometimes ask a class to list 5 things God can do to bring redemptive good things out of our worst experiences. It is an exercise to grow the eyes of faith to see the Father’s Hand in all things. Often, believers are completely stumped by the mental block their negative thoughts have cast over the past—and can’t even put one thing down on their papers. Good thing we don’t grade class work! So before you read the list below, try to name 5 good things that have come out of your own worst events.
Done? Now, consider these 27 “generic” good things that He is always working for our good through experiences of brokenness, weakness and pain. This is by no means complete as a list, nor can it include the individual, specific things God may do just for you, but, taken together, you will have to admit that the Lord is never sitting on His Hands—He is always at work to start bringing good out of whatever happens. Let’s go to work believing it!
1) Our brokenness humbles us.
2) Our brokenness helps us realize our dependence upon God.
3) In our brokenness God draws near.
4) Our brokenness enables us to have compassion on others.
5) His strength is made perfect in places of our weakness.
6) In our weakness we discover that His grace is sufficient.
7) He comforts us.
8) With the comfort we learn to receive from Him, we learn to comfort others.
9) He grieves with us—and we learn to enter into His sufferings.
10) We learn (in our hearts not just in our heads) that He is not the author of evil or of suffering and that He grieves with us.
11) We grow a stronger prayer life.
12) We really begin to search for God’s love and hope and help.
13) We really begin to search His Word for understanding.
14) We cling to His every Word and learn to trust it.
15) We cling to His Word and learn to obey it. (“before I was afflicted, I went astray…”)
16) We see His salvation as He delivers us.
17) We learn to love the world less and God more.
18) We learn to mistrust what is in us (“in me dwells no good thing…”).
19) We learn to mistrust what is in others (Jesus loved others, but trusted Himself “blindly” to no one but the Father).
20) We learn to open ourselves to help and encouragement from others.
21) We learn to discern whom to trust and when.
22) We learn to discern true good and true evil (not what we call good and evil!).
23) We learn to forgive and so become more like Him in His way of loving us.
24) We learn to receive His forgiveness and so become more aware of His love.
25) God begins to develop a track record with us of mending us despite our acting out.
26) All of these dealings bring a convincing of His love in ways no sermon could.
27) We discover at greater depth a mighty Savior, a constant Spirit, a loving Father—and His Bride (our brothers and sisters in Christ).
To learn more about how to fully believe God’s promises (and mend your heart, and overcome depression, and enter into more joy and peace, etc.) see The Power of an Active Faith.