2. For our good.
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, ESV
The truth that God is working all things together for my good should bring endurance and perseverance when life takes harsh twists and turns. The truth is, we humans aren't that durable. Instinctively we'll find the shift, delete, or control buttons when our megabytes of energy or resolve or patience are depleted. If there's an escape hatch we'll find it. That he's working all things for my good often gets lost in the dark hallways of trying times.
Perception is usually my problem. I don't always know how to identify that which could be labeled as "good". Sure, I know what looks good or sounds good or smells good or tastes good or feels good. You know, my self-centered human sensory system. The thesaurus in my head would acknowledge as good those things that are pleasing, satisfying, or appealing. A good joke makes me laugh; good cake tickles my taste buds; good music soothes the soul or gets my feet tapping; and you know the rest. You have concepts about good too. The truth is, we're pretty selective in the good department.
Of course, what God is doing in my life or in the world around me doesn't always fit into those shallow categories. Life Curriculum 101 teaches me that "good" in the context of God's working is deeper and more ultimate than my five senses. His work in my life is good because it matures and grows in me the likeness of Christ and the spiritual traits that give me influence in this dark world. Some of these virtues or graces are softly shaped in me by the hands of the potter at the wheel. At times they are hammered in me on the anvil of God's discipline. Everyone of them is not what I could call a "feel good" experience. But, they are all good for my spiritual growth and maturity. Loving him and seeking to discover and live his purpose give these self-absorbed instincts a shove in the good direction.
Another defining moment about God's work occurred just days after our son Brian Eliot Holmes was murdered in Charleston. I've shared this on many occasions so just bear with me if you're reading it for the umpteenth time. That evening, on the porch with my Bible and thoughts, I read a Tweet posted by Dr. Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church, Lutz, Florida. Let me paraphrase..."In times of crisis we ask, how can I get out of this? We should ask, what can I get out of this?". There is absolutely no way our sons death could be characterized as good. That Tweet, however, did shift my attention somewhat. The good that could come from such a horrific experience, in retrospect, involved the lessons God would teach us in the aftermath of his death. The trouble for us fragile, egocentric humans is that we're not always willing to be still and know, to detect his working in our questionable moments.
Difficult times are teachable moments. Lesson one is that God is always working. Close behind is another power truth: he is always working for our good.