My current life season is a hard one. I feel like I can see the Promised Land but the wilderness just got an indefinite extension. Like I’m running a 26-mile marathon and at around mile 25, someone holds up a sign along the side of the road that reads, “Sorry, sucker, this is actually a 52-miler…didn’t you know?”
But two thoughts keep rumbling around in my head. The often-tossed-around-at-inappropriate-times Scripture that says “…all things God works for the good of those who love him…” (Romans 8:28).
How in heaven’s name can this hold-up of mine under this crazy circumstance of mine actually be good for me?, I think to myself. (If you knew the details, you’d think that too.) First of all, umm, I totally love God, so this promise is for me. Secondly, I believe he really means all things, even though it makes me mad sometimes and I totally don’t get it and I like to pretend he really meant only some things work for good. And thirdly, I know he’s in control and he’s always at work.
But here’s my little light bulb moment on this. The verse doesn’t say – at least not in the English translation – that God works all of my circumstances out for my good just because I love him. Our culture is so individualized, maybe too much at times. When this was penned, people lived in community in a way that we can’t understand. They loved God together, not as separately as we do now. So, just a thought, maybe this really extra-difficult month of mine isn’t actually being worked out for my good, but maybe it’s being worked out for the good of another who loves God. Maybe, and this is just my limited view, but maybe there is something be broken in me and burned out of me and stripped off of me that needs to be gone that only this month could do that will at some point in time come in handy as I attempt to dole out the comfort to those who are in similar troubles with the comfort I will hopefully be receiving from God through all this (2 Corinthians 1:4).
Then there’s the sweet little phrase tucked inside Psalm 84:11 that grabs my heart and twists it…”…no good thing does he withhold…” Really? Because right in this moment, I can literally stand outside of a really good thing and put my hand on the doorknob and I cannot go in. It feels withheld from me. I feel like God is holding the keys and rattling them and saying, “Eh eh eh, not so fast…” Well then. If it’s a promise that he doesn’t withhold good things, then this thing in front of me, for a reason I may never know, must not be good for me today. It will hopefully be good for me soon. (Uhh, sooner rather than later, please, Lord.) But it must not be good for me today, otherwise I would be living within its goodness.
So, right now, I can’t see the good. And maybe the good isn’t for me. Or maybe the good isn’t ready for me. Or maybe I’m not ready for it. But God is working and moving, and that I must choose to believe.