The past few days I have been thinking about the good & bad that happens to us in our lives. We are so quick to accept the blessings as coming from God. We have no problem thanking Him for the blessings that He bestows.
But what about the bad? What is our attitude to be when the difficult comes into our lives?
Job seemed to have the correct mindset, when in the midst of his troubles, he stated to his wife: “Shall we accept good from God & not trouble?” (Job 2:10 NIV).
Stephen Mansfield, in his book, Healing Your Church Hurt, writes this about pain:
Hard things are as much ordained as the blessings & at the very least we can arrive at a state in which we can say with the psalmist, “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”
We should have this attitude because it is rooted in the truth of God, but there are also some wonderful benefits that come from having this view. First, when you realize that wounding experiences are often ordained & useful, it draws out some of the poison of your pain. You understand what you have endured as a process in the hand of God rather than a unique & vicious conspiracy against you. This may not lessen the pain but it does change the meaning of the pain, and it may serve as a barrier to the bitterness that wants to taint your soul.
Seeing that the hard experiences have been permitted by God is a perspective that protects us. We want to get to the point of becoming like Joseph. Steven Mansfield further explains:
…like Joseph, you can get on with the ultimate reason for what you have endured. Notice that Joseph could say to his brothers, “Yes, I realize you were trying to hurt me, but God had a higher purpose and he used your sin for my benefit so that now I can do good to others. I’m not focused on how your wronged me: I’m focused on the good I can now do.” This is the ultimate victory, isn’t it? The loftiest statement of your cleansing & redemption – after all the pain you’ve endured – is that now you realize what God was doing & you can get on with that high calling for your life.
When we take this perspective, we can fully understand how Ephesians 2:10 & Romans 8:28 collide. In looking at the two verses side by side, we can come to a peace with it all.
“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.” (Romans 8:28 NIV).
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).
All things – the good, the bad, the beautiful & the ugly – come together to work in our lives so that we accomplish those things that God has for us to do. All of it will one day make sense when we stand before Him. Until then, may we be like Joseph & focus on the good that we can do now.