We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Whenever I read those familiar words from the Apostle Paul, I ask myself: “Do I really know this? Does it really affect the way I live?” The new year gives each of us an opportunity to test the depth of our faith, especially when we have concerns and anxiety about the future.
It’s important to see that Paul says: “All things work together for good.” Not “All things are good.” Becoming a Christian does not mean that we are immune from awful things happening to us. Many of you know that much more than I do. We suffer the same illnesses, financial challenges, bereavements, work stresses, relational heartaches, accidents, and challenges as anyone else in this damaged world we live in. We suffer just like anyone else. In some places in the world, Christians suffer in unimaginable ways because of their faith in Jesus.
Paul is not saying nothing bad will come our way in the Christian life; rather, he is saying that God can take whatever comes our way and make it serve our good. He is not responsible for evil, but even evil and suffering cannot escape his purposes for our lives. In a world full of painful waiting, this verse is an amazing resource to take into this new year.
“All things” means everything that happens to us, including the very worst things that might happen. Even those things are not outside the scope of God’s loving purpose for our lives.
In the Old Testament, Joseph could look back on the unspeakable evil his brothers did to him and say: “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20). Worry tells us they meant it for evil – that it happened while God was distracted. Faith reassures us that God means it for good.
This “all things work together for good” is seen in the death of Jesus (Acts 4:27–28). For some, it was the very worst thing that could ever happen. Yet through it, God was able to bring about eternal good when he raised him from the dead.
No matter how difficult the last year has been for you (It was a painful year for me, in so many different ways) God could not have been more good to you than he has been with: 364 sunrises, 525,600 minutes, 7.3 million breaths and 42 million heartbeats.
This next year will be one moment after another of God working things out for your ultimate good. Of course, this is hard for us to believe, which is why the Apostle Paul writes in the verse that follows:
God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son.
Romans 8:29 – The Message
This is the good to which all things in your life are working – that you become more like Jesus.
We often struggle with seeing the goodness of God because we struggle to understand what ultimate goodness looks like. Our view of what is good falls so far short of God’s.
Bible verses like Romans 8:28-29 remind us that God knows far more about what is best for us than we do. God is not working in all things so that this life will be one of financial riches, good health, or popularity. It is so we become more like Jesus in our thoughts, words and actions.
And if God is working all things so that we become more like Jesus, it must mean there is not a single thing we need to worry about.
If we truly trust in God, we need not worry about what 2019 will bring. There is not one moment we need to fear. We can be sure that in every second of it, God will be working to make us more like Jesus.
Why don’t you put God first at the beginning of this new year and see what happens? You could start by attending one of the many good churches in town who can help you on your journey of faith in 2019. What could be a better New Year’s resolution than that?
May God’s richest blessing be upon you and your family this coming year.
This is a copy of my article for the January 2019 edition of the Billericay ‘Around Town Magazine’
I came across this on Twitter after I’d written my article – seems a perfect fit!