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Together for Good

July 23, 2020

“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Today is Day 130 of Dispatches From a Suburban Parson During a Pandemic. The lectionary continues to walk us through Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. This Sunday we will hear a large chunk of Romans 8, in which we find some of the most comforting words in all of scripture, including our verse for this morning.

Oddly, this verse only becomes truly comforting when we stop pretending that it’s so comforting.

This is what I mean: We often hear these words through the filter of our too-trite belief. We bandy about phrases like, “God’s got a plan” and “Everything will work out in the end” as if these are true statements in the way we mean them. But life doesn’t always work out. Jobs are lost. Diagnoses are heard. Relationships fall apart. Violence erupts. Oppression continues. Such things are not part of God’s plan for us. They are the result of sin and brokenness.

Yes, these event can be building blocks toward a better future. But sometimes the bad things that happen are just that: bad. Worse, such thinking can be used a weapon against (or within) us. After all, if you really loved God, things would start working out for you. The problem must be with the quality of your faith.

Nonsense.

Paul’s words are not a vague statement that there’s a “plan.” Rather, this is a concrete proclamation that no matter how far off the rails we’ve gone, God will not abandon us. Sometimes life falls completely apart and there’s no putting it back together. But God will not abandon us. On the cross, Jesus took all our abandonment and forsakenness into himself. And then he died. But God did not abandon him.

Out of death, God does something new. Cling to that, the promise that no matter how bad things get and how broken our plans become, God is bringing life out of death. All things work together for good because nothing will separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So hang on. Honestly, things might not be getting better. Don’t settle for the cold comfort that they might. Ask for the full gospel, please; the Word of Life that that is with you in all things. Even the crappy ones that aren’t part of God’s plan. And that’s a plan we can trust, and out of which we can begin to work together for good.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God of great love, our plans fall apart as our world rebels against you. Still, you are good. You are gracious. Weave the broken parts of our lives into your tapestry of redemption, and comfort us when life is beyond simple consolation. Let us look to Christ, trusting in him alone. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: Torsten, apparently trying to prepare for whatever life throws his way.

From → COVID-19

One Comment
  1. Susan Messerli permalink

    There is a depth in your daily Dispatches that really moves me. I am grateful to you each day as I read them. Thank you!

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