Read His Words Before Ours!
“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30)
What is your definition of good?
I asked myself this question and, after consideration, felt I had a pretty solid answer.
Then the Lord brought several scenarios to my mind, asking me if they fit my definition of good.
And my definition began to shift, based on the circumstances of those situations. What I originally categorized as good suddenly lost some of its positive qualities as more details emerged. Conversely, some terrible scenarios began to show silver linings as the bigger picture appeared.
For example, periodically a post about the morning of 9/11 pops up on my social media feed. The astounding post tells the story of why some employees in the World Trade Center weren’t at work the day the towers fell. There were many good reasons: dropping a kiddo off at daycare or picking up donuts for coworkers. Yet, some were reasons we wouldn’t normally categorize as good like the frustration of breaking a shoelace and hunting for a new one, oversleeping the alarm, a flat tire, a car accident, or even sickness.
What seemed like an inconvenience at 7:30 am might be viewed, quite literally, as a lifesaving good by 5 pm on that horrendous day.
While I have never experienced such an extreme example, I am aware that in many situations, my definition of good for me changes vastly with time and perspective.
I would not be married to my husband, had I given up when the wait definitely did not feel good. I probably would have missed several of my life experiences and oh, the lessons they have taught me. I would be much more self-centered (and I’ve still got a long way to go). I would have avoided the very pain in one season that enabled the life-giving growth in another.
I can’t trust my definition of good, and I’m guessing I’m not the only one. I know for sure there are others throughout history whose lives panned out differently than expected; in fact, the Bible is filled with such people.
Joseph is a prime example. His story started out “good” as the deeply loved child and prophetic dreamer in a large family. While these may seem great, were they actually helping Joseph grow and mature?
His story shifted, and few would describe the next several years of Joseph’s life as good as he was sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused of sexual assault, spent years in jail, and finally served as second in command for a country whose religious structure directly conflicted with his own. (Genesis 39, 40, 41)
When we look back on Joseph’s life after reading his full story in Genesis, the beauty of his family’s final reconciliation brings purpose and redemption to all of the preceding hard. Genesis 50:20 encapsulates his story perfectly:
“You planned evil against me; God planned it for good, to bring about the present result–the survival of many people.”
I’ve heard that verse described as the Romans 8:28-29 of the Old Testament. At the very minimum, Joseph’s life is an Old Testament example of the Lord bringing about good according to His purposes.
Can you imagine the conversations Joseph had with the Lord throughout the years? He may have carried bitterness and deep emotional wounds from his suffering. These specific details are not captured directly in Scripture, but we are shown Joseph’s perseverance and commitment to excellence. He continued to hope, both for the future and in the Lord’s consistent character as faithful, good, and sovereign.
The same is true in our lives. Romans 8:28-30 is not permission to only expect our best imagined life on this earth. It’s not wrong to want happiness, but we must embrace the realities of this broken world and our finite understanding of good.
But let’s also fall into the arms of the One who calls us by name (Isaiah 43:1-4).
He has plans and purposes for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11-14), a promise given to the Israelites while entering exile.
He is capable and sufficient to walk through hard seasons with us (Psalm 23:1-6).
He is the Alpha and the Omega and knows the beginning from the end (Revelation 21:6-7).
The Lord will always bring about good from our experiences. It may not be the good we are expecting, but it is a good that grows us, changes us, humbles and delights us.
His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), and His timing may span decades, not simply hours or days. His long game is to help us become more like Christ–our ultimate good–and He has the patience to fine tune that process, individually, and intricately. Often, this includes using His definition of good rather than our own.
So today, dear sister, may we surrender our circumstances into His tender hand and allow Him to bring about His good in the midst of them.
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Thanks for joining us today as we journeyed into Alive Week Three! Don’t miss out on the discussion below – we’d love to hear your thoughts!