Sometimes life is good. Sometimes it’s easier than it is at other times. But I think it becomes easier to recognize the good times because we have gone through the rough times. I am currently in a season of relatively good health, mentally, physically, and spiritually. But as we all know, that can change without warning.
In some recent emails with a friend, we have exchanged thoughts about good things for that day. We have practiced being thankful for things like hot cups of tea, smiling grandchildren, unplanned coffee dates with friends and so on. I have really been enjoying this practice, because it has forced me to think intentionally every day about the good things of life.
Because of this practice, I have been reminded about the recent times in my life that have been extremely difficult. Times when my faith felt a bit fragile and trusting in God’s good plan was something I had to work at. I felt trapped on a merry go round of events that would not stop spinning, and I was literally growing ill from the constant motion of it all.
In Romans 8:28 we read “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.” That’s you and I, sister! If we know Jesus as our redeemer, then this scripture is for us. This verse is a feel-good verse, at least it is for me. It is all wrapped up in hope. Because, when I read this verse, I know that God sees the whole picture, and that He is working through my difficulty with an end result in mind. That result is my good, my best interest.
But when we slow it down, and only look at the first half of the verse, it changes just a little bit. “In all things, God works.” This implies that there are “things”, difficulties, and hardships in this life. And I see there that being a Christ Follower does not make me immune to challenges and struggles in life. I will experience “things” that will cause me to pause and know that, on my own, I am unable to understand it all. But that God is working.
In the book of Acts, in chapter 9, we read an account of a woman named Dorcas.
Dorcas lived in Joppa, near Jerusalem. Her brief but powerful life story, is told in just 11 verses.
Joppa was a seacoast town, and the women who lived there were typically married to seafaring men who made their living from the sea. They were often fisherman. The sea took the lives of many men in accidents out on the waters. Consequently, Joppa had many widows. But the women there had a friend in Dorcas. She was a Christ Follower, as well as the first (and only) woman in the New Testament, to be called a disciple. She loved and cared for the women there, when their husbands (and their support system) were no longer there to do it for them. She sewed the women garments and undoubtedly put her arms around them in comfort as they mourned their losses. She put her faith into action.
And then, scripture says, that she got sick and died. Just like that, with no warning, their situation changed, and Dorcas is gone.
How the women in Joppa must have wept and mourned the loss of their friend. She had done so much, loved so fiercely, and given so generously. They were in a difficult time. The widows of Joppa surely would have doubted God’s good plan for them. Perhaps they struggled to trust God, and maybe felt they were trapped on a merry go round of emotions. Hard things.
But the apostle Peter was called to come, and God gave him the power to raise Dorcas back to life! Imagine the great joy and praise happening in Joppa! The women felt joy and hope once again! God had certainly seen into their difficult situation and chosen to revive Dorcas to prove that He was able to care for them. Good things.
When the situation changed for the women, they reflected, and realize that there had been hard times before, but that they were experiencing good times right now. They experienced a time of relief and relative peace in their still somewhat difficult existence as a widow in Joppa. And many came to know God because of all that happened there.
That can be you and I, too.
The hard things that were, become the good things that are, in time.
“In all things God works.”
If you are in a heartbreaking time, I want to encourage you to exercise your faith and not get stuck where you are. I’ve been there, and I will most likely be there again at some point. That’s just how life is. But God is always working. And He’s working for my good.
He’s working for your good too.
If right now, you are in a time of hard things, hold tight. Nothing lasts forever. We are not without hope when we purpose to let God work. He will always bring about good in our lives.
But remember, Dorcas’ story doesn’t end with her death, Paul didn’t stay shipwrecked, Ruth didn’t remain a widow, and Jesus didn’t stay on the cross.
In time, with God’s good plan for you, this too shall pass. He will work it into something good.
One day, your hard thing will be in the past, and you will be rejoicing in the good things that are.
Trust in Him to take you there. Only He can make sense of the spinning, and turn your doubt into trust. God always has a plan, a good plan, and when we trust Him even when we can’t see it, we understand better what Jesus meant when He said “you do not understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” John 13:7.
Father, when I am in a rough time, and life is hard, draw me to yourself. Show me in your word where those who love you are comforted and learn to trust you again because you are always good. When my faith is fragile, wrap your love around my heart and remind me that your presence is always with me. I want to choose to trust you even when I am still in the darkness.