"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?"
Romans 8:28-31 (ESV)
Romans is a weighty book: The first letter of the Apostle Paul in our New Testament, written from Corinth to the church in Rome that he was hoping to join soon. Since Paul had never been there and recognizing that there was a great deal of tension in the Roman church (Jewish believers alongside Romans who had oppressed them for years), Paul does a great deal of clarifying, beginning with the gospel itself: We are saved by grace. We are focusing in this series on chapter 8 which describes the great tension in which we live the Christian life.
Those in Christ are living with the tension between our flesh and our spirit. We all have this, living in the wrestle of the now (new life in Christ) but not yet (still in a fallen world) reality of God’s purpose. All creation and humanity are in anticipation for Jesus to come back and God to reveal a new world. This anticipation is met with the frustration of our present realities:
- I am a child of God but I am also being transformed into a child of God;
- I am saved but I am also not in Heaven yet;
- I am forgiven but I am also being forgiven every day.
You will never be able to escape the tension of being in the middle. Christianity is not escapism! So what do we do in this situation? This Romans passage says that “we know” God is working for our good. This is not a feeling or a thought, but a belief, a conviction and a statement of faith. God is working “in all things” - not around them. We bring God into the middle of every challenge, including lockdowns.
God is working in our circumstances and with our circumstances. He uses all the ingredients: the good, the bad and the ugly. He uses what is working and what is not working. We can’t see how it can possibly come together but God uses our disappointments, failures, losses - everything - for our good as we move towards the glorious ending He has waiting. No matter what we face today we are anchored in the reality of God’s sovereign governance, care, and support.
How can we be sure that God is for us and able to make everything work for our good? Because of the cross. Even when there was no hope left and Jesus died, God worked for our good.
Two things to pray about as we wrestle with our current difficult circumstances:
- God, what are you wanting to change in me, in my circumstances? God uses what is happening around us to change what is within us or what is happening to me is not as important as what is happening in me. Let’s pray with David “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
- God, what is your kingdom purpose in this circumstance? Remember that Paul was shipwrecked and thrown in prison and God still used these circumstances to reach people with the good news of Jesus. We are limited in what we can do, but what can God do through you where you are? We want to say with Joseph, that what others intended for harm, God used to save lives. (Genesis 50:20)
SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT
- How has 2020 and 2021 changed you?
- What habits have you created or continued, to allow God to work in you during this time?
- Consider your next step during this series: Will you read or study Romans? Will you join the C3 College short course on Romans? Take the opportunity! Even over Zoom, you can still join a connect group or a team, or ask for help from C3 Cares.
- Is there someone you can invite to church on Zoom? Are there people in your connect circle who are struggling - maybe you could put together a care package for them (in a covid-safe way).