“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
This scripture has been thrown into so many conversations when hard moments hit. It’s so comforting to think that good will come out of bad. We want things to be “good” for us, for our little worlds, for our lives and our every day living. But reality is, this isn’t what this scripture is promising at all…. You see, good to us means all is well in our world. Good to us means no pain and that everything is going smooth as planned. Good to us means a friction free life full of happiness. This scripture isn’t talking about our narrow definition of good it is talking about God’s definition and God’s ways are not like our ways.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
God’s definition of working things for good have to do with the giant picture of eternity. It’s bigger, greater and more important than anything we could measure in our lives. And the good he is working will surely matter in the grand plan of God pursuing the hearts of men and women to himself. Our wrestles, our struggles, our pain, our joy, our surrender, our obedience… all of it is being repurposed for God’s glory in the earth, the best kind of good possible.
This is so much easier to be excited about when it’s not your life getting rocked. When things are within our definition of “good”. So how do we lean into these promises and trust all will be well when things seem so bad?
Four days ago a friend died, unexpectedly. He leaves here on this earth a wife whom I love, daughters whom my heart breaks for and friends who are like family. Just a few short weeks ago he was in Nicaragua with my husband building a food machine that will bring sustainable living for an entire community. A machine that will not only give life to those who need it, but will be a light of the Gospel to the hearts of every person that experiences its goodness. He left more than a mark on this earth, he left “good”… God’s kind of good. And I have to trust that with this friend leaving this earth that the good that remains will draw the people left behind into the grand picture of eternity that God is always at work on.
So in the mean time, while I try to let this truth settle into my soul, what do I do with the feelings? The confusion? The shock? The pain? The uncomfortable state that I am living in at this very moment? Well, I have learned to just simply…
WALK THROUGH IT.
There are no short cuts here, this road must be walked. I have tried in my lifetime to avoid walking through these hard moments. I have tried ignoring, coping, hurrying, avoiding, staying busy, hiding and shutting down. Nothing works. Nothing except walking through it. And eventually, no matter how you start down the road, you have to finish the journey at some point or another. The timing is up to you. You can walk now, or you can walk later but you will walk… because it’s the way God created you. So how do you walk through hard moments? The kind that you just want everything to be “good” in? The sucky, horrible, life-altering, painful moments that seem to leave you stranded in a dark and cold pit.
Here is what I have learned…
BE PRESENT. Being present is hard enough in our daily lives without pain so adding that ingredient in makes being present all the harder. We live in a culture that pushes us to stuff, hide, avoid and ignore what is really going on inside of us. A culture that fills every moment with things that keep our brain focused on things that really don’t matter in the light of eternity… Binge watching show after show, staring blankly at our phones while scrolling through others lives, constant immediate satisfaction for every need we have. Our culture feeds our desire to be numb to the messiness known as real life. But being present in real life is where we find actual fulfillment even if it means experiencing horrible pain. To be present is a challenge but it is so worth it. Pausing, feeling, experiencing brokenness… being present in the pain.
BE HONEST. Here’s the truth, God knows you… I mean really knows you. So there is no reason to hide, pretend or feel ashamed of who you are and how you feel. I find so often it is a challenge to be honest with God, not because of who he is but because of who I am. Examining my own heart and being honest with where I am and how I feel is just hard. But the only way for us to ever move from broken moments is to be honest with ourselves and honest with the one who can heal us. You never have to fake it with God, he already knows. His love is unconditional, so no matter how dark, how confused, how angry, how hurt you are, he still says come to me. He is the safest place in the world to be completely yourself, a place where you don’t have to hold anything back. A place to be honest.
TRUST. When life is hard I tend to want to shut down and self preserve. Trusting anyone into my brokenness is not my first choice. And how do you trust a God that you don’t fully understand? So many questions dance around in our heads while our hearts ache and our lives come to a screeching holt. When it is hard to trust there is one thing that remains the same despite our feelings, God. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Our history with him proves to us who he is even if in this moment we can’t see him clearly. He is God and he is faithful. He has shown that to us over and over again in our lives and this moment will be no exception. He will once again reveal that he is working all things for “good”, for the eternal kinda good that our souls long for. The kinda good that makes our lives FULL even when we are suffering with pain and struggle.
God’s ways are not like ours and we don’t always understand what in the world is happening. But I would rather follow hard after God who works all things for good than live a life with the same pain and no God. He is worth following, even in the struggle. And on the other side of the struggle comes life, and life to its fullest. The kind of life our souls crave. So no matter how hard it becomes we must choose to just simply WALK ON.