“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
Twenty-four hours a day, every day, an unexplainable tragic event happens, or the unexpected happens without an explanation as to why. Often, we try to make sense out of the things that we see happening in our world. We offer our best reasonable context of why things happen to appease ourselves and others. In reality often times we do not know why or what the explanation is for the events that shatter our lives, our families, our world.
It is hard to contrast the above verse with the suffering, hardships and heartaches that assault each and every one of us from time to time. It is difficult to see any good from tragedies that have dealt so much pain. When we see war, hunger, political strife and worldwide destruction and devastation, we begin to wonder. What is going on, and why does this happen? How many times are our plans for our lives interrupted, and suddenly we find ourselves heading in a new direction that we never had in mind?
If I were to say that there is a reason or purpose for every event that happens, it would sound harsh, cold and uncaring. Yet I am not the one who says that there is a time and season for everything under the sun. Let’s take a look at the source that says that exact same thing.
“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:” Ecclesiastes 3:1
This popular verse connects to a full chapter of all the different events for where there is a time. It lists in great detail all of the events that will confront mankind throughout his time on earth. I find it interesting that no one is exempt from the things that life will bring.
It does not regard, status, wealth or power. All shall endure these things. If a loved one, friend or family member is lost in a car accident, the pain of loss is felt just as much by the person who is rich, as it is felt by the person of little means. One’s status does not and cannot prevent tragedies.
To be honest, I sometimes have questioned God about the unfairness of life, as it seems. Could it be that we are seeing things out of context? The key to understand the mystery of how all things can work together for good is found in the verse itself. Let’s take a closer look at the prerequisites of having all things work together for our good.
To whom is the verse addressing and what are the specific conditions?
“to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
God has very specific plans and purposes for all of creation and especially the human race. We are the focal point of all his dealings on earth. In his sovereign will God has declared some things and he will not take back his word. His will and purpose on earth will be carried out, regardless of anything that may seem to deter it otherwise.
As humans we have a tendency to want to have absolute control over every aspect of our lives, and sometimes even the lives of others. It is hard to relinquish control to someone else, mostly because we do not trust others to have our best interest at heart.
In the above verse, God has made an interesting promise of a certain outcome in the lives of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
There are numerous examples and stories in the Bible of this unique promise being fulfilled in the lives of people. While reading the bible, I have been fascinated with the details of people’s lives and how they fit into the bigger picture or puzzle that God had designed by purpose.
To the average person it is hard to make sense of injustice and hardship as a means to a better end. Yet countless times God has used the most painful circumstances to bring about his purpose. One powerful example is the collection of stories that involve Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, David, Noah and a host of others all the way down the line to Jesus Christ.
In a brief summary God had promised Abraham a long time ago that his descendants would be numerous. He promised that they would be His chosen people and that he would bring them into an inheritance of land. He declared that in their lineage a savior would come to save untold numbers of people from their sin, and that this savior would establish a permanent government in righteousness. The entire scope of the bible is the detailed revelation of just how that decree is unfolding, this very second.
The people mentioned above all had the same thing in common. They all loved God, and they all were called according to His specific purpose.
What about you and I? How do we fit in this larger picture of God’s purpose?
There is a saying: “If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans!” The bible is full of accounts of people who thought that their plans for life would unfold in exacting details. It details the story of ordinary men, and women who did not have ambitions or a thought of making a mark in world history.
It highlights a teenage girl named Mary, who only wanted a normal love that would end in marriage to her fiancée Joseph. Yet we know just how her life was interrupted to deliver a child who was none other than Jesus Christ, the savior of the world.
Imagine a man just trying to have a normal life and love God in the middle of a corrupt world, who gets a message from God that the earth will be destroyed by a worldwide flood.
Further instructions from God state that he is to build an Ark and bring in animals and his own family into the ark as they will be the sole survivors of planet earth! The man named Noah is a worldwide hero and savior of humanity, because of his act of obedience to circumstances he did not fully understand.
How about a man who is kidnapped by his brothers, sold into slavery and shipped off to another country? How fascinating is the story of that slave who was used by God to secure the survival of the very family and brothers that sold him into slavery? This was the unforeseen destiny of Joseph.
Consider the life of Moses who killed a man and fled Egypt in exile. While tending sheep he has a most unusual encounter with a burning bush, just to find out that God almighty is going to send him, on a mission to tell the King of Egypt to release the slaves, cited above.
Can you imagine making the return trip back to the place you ran from as a fugitive and having to boldly confront the King? That was the plan God had for Moses.
All of these people from different backgrounds had love for God in common. All of these people were called by God, for His purpose. Keep in mind that their relationship with God did not exempt them from the hardships or uncertainty of life.
They all had personal issues to deal with. However, God in his wisdom was able to use the hardships and uncertainties of their lives to accomplish his purpose.
God has not changed his overall purpose for mankind, nor has he changed his specific purpose for your life and mine. Whatever you are experiencing in life, God knows every detail and with your current circumstances he can bring about his purposes and plans.
Imagine how encouraging these words were to the prophet Jeremiah:
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13
Every detail of our lives can be used for God’s purposes even though we do not fully comprehend how. It is hard for us to imagine any good purpose coming out of tragic events or hardships. But yet God has demonstrated over and over again, that our lives are used to accomplish things that are beyond our capability.
Could a slave have imagined that he would be positioned in the country of his captivity to bring about the survival of the very brothers who sold him into slavery? Yet over time as those events played out, he realized that God had orchestrated the circumstances in his life to bring deliverance of his entire family!
Joseph acknowledged that God had placed him in Egypt by means of his captivity to be the means of survival, for not only his family but the entire land of Egypt, from the severe famine. Truly, only God can manipulate our circumstances for his purposes. Joseph realizes this and tells his brothers that their deeds, which they intended for evil, was used instead for good.
“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Genesis 50:20 NKJV
I would encourage you and I to seek the vision of God for our lives when we find ourselves in situations that are extremely hard to understand. Just know that God has plans for our lives in according to his promise to us.
Even though we do not see clearly the entire plan, ultimately it is designed for our good and to bring us into our destiny that he has prepared for us. Our job is to have faith in his promises to us, regardless of what our circumstances are.
Your life’s circumstances are part of His purpose for your future.
“Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Romans 8:30 NKJV
I admit it is sometimes difficult to see how all of the events in our lives fit together for a bigger purpose. Especially when at times we feel abandoned in our darkest hour of pain and despair. However, God uses all of these circumstances in our lives, to not only bring us into his ultimate plan for our good, but to also shape our character in the process.
Imagine being told that you have a bigger purpose and calling for your life, and that to fulfill that purpose, you will have to have a complete makeover. That is precisely what God does with our lives. He skillfully and with great patients, refines our character by using our circumstances to bring about positive change necessary for His purpose.
Countless stories in the Bible show the process of God getting the attention of ordinary men and women. After getting their attention, he orchestrates events that will test them and refine them for a bigger purpose than they could ever have imagined.
As I take a close examination of my own life, I am beginning to see events from the past that were absolutely necessary to shaping my character. Some of those things were most certainly painful, and I did not fully understand why.
My own sins and bad decisions sometimes were the cause of the pain. And with the pain I wised up to make better decisions and become a better person. I am still a work in progress. God is in the reconstruction business of our lives that in the long run will benefit us and bring him glory. Ironically, when our lives are in harmony with his purpose, we will find much more personal fulfillment.
Consider the story of Paul the apostle. The life of Paul is a powerful example of God using extraordinary and painful circumstances to accomplish His predetermined plans and purpose. Paul did not have the complete picture of what he would experience for the cause of Christ. He did not know the extent of suffering he would endure to complete the task God had prepared for him.
Paul’s life was interrupted in dramatic fashion by none other than Jesus Christ, while walking on a road going to a town called Damascus. His initial reason for going to Damascus was to persecute the early Christians that had formed there and bring them to justice.
In summary his encounter with Jesus Christ made him blind for three days, revolutionized his thinking and set him on a lifelong trajectory of unspeakable suffering and faith building boldness, that has helped the Christian movement ever since.
All of his circumstances and life of suffering, God used and even orchestrated to further the gospel to countless people. Through his many trials, the faith of many were strengthened, and we are still talking about him this very day.
At the lowest points of Paul’s life, he felt despair and utter abandonment by God. However, as his journey took him to places to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he began to realize that it was all part of God’s plan and that his life had been repurposed for such.
You and I also are subject to being used by God and having our lives be repurposed for his glory. As Christians the sooner we understand and accept that our lives have been bought and paid for by Jesus Christ, the better we will be at allowing him to fulfill his purpose in us.
Peace comes from letting go of total control.
Over the years I have come to a point in my life where I have realized that I am not responsible for every outcome in my life. It has not been easy, but with time I am learning that my job is to do what I know to be right and let God be responsible for the results.
Our personal lives will have more peace and calm if we do not try to control the storm, but rather trust the only person who can deliver us in the storm. You and I are bombarded with many instances where we try to control and direct a certain outcome.
We get very frustrated when our best efforts fall short. It’s in our nature to be in control of every aspect of our lives. But were we designed this way? Do we expect our children or infants to be in control of every aspect of their lives while under our care?
Just as parents are responsible for the survival and well-being of their children, God is responsible for our lives. Doesn’t God know exactly what we go through and what is needed for our basic survival? He makes it very clear that he cares about the details of our lives and has promised that he is in control and is responsible for our survival.
Until he has completed his purpose for our lives, he is directly responsible for our survival.
I read about this powerful principle in the life of Paul. Jesus Christ had ordained Paul to be a witness for Him and to travel to many countries to proclaim the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles, before Paul’s conversion.
Listen to what was spoken concerning him: But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Acts 9:15,16 NKJV
With that decree from Jesus Christ, Paul’s mission could not fail regardless of the horrendous circumstances he would find himself in. With time and after many tests and trials by fire, Paul began to have unshakable faith that Jesus Christ would guarantee his mission to preach the gospel, just as it was spoken.
His confidence grew to the point that because God had ensured his arrival to the other countries, to preach the gospel, he became the instrument of survival for others who were on the dangerous voyage with him.
His boldness in moving forward wherever God would send him was strengthened by the following words: But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.” Acts 23:11
The voyage to Rome was treacherous, and they became shipwrecked. There were other prisoners onboard the ship and for fear that they would escape, the guards wanted to kill them all, to include Paul who was also a prisoner. However, for the sake of Paul, the Guard officer (centurion) would not allow them to do so.
They literally loss everything except their lives. All of these events were the orchestrated hand of God to ensure that Paul would get to his destination and serve the purpose that God had predestined him to do.
So, consider your own life’s circumstances. Can you see tiny glimpses at how your life may be divinely guided for His purpose? He is directly responsible for your survival until it is accomplished. Because of his covenant promise to you, he can counsel you with these words of wisdom:
“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:26 NKJV
“For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:32,33 NKJV
Giving up total control of our lives and allowing God to handle our circumstances can be the best thing that ever happens to you and me.
Eugene Coghill is a contributing writer at Faith Filled Family Magazine, and the creator of Kingdom Living, www.eugenecoghill.com a Christian based inspirational blog. His achievements have included two published novels, Love Is A Fishnet (2008) and most recently, A Loving Deception (February 2020). He is in pursuit of a freelance copywriting career with American Writers and Artists, Inc. and is a member of the Professional Writers Alliance.
Some past careers have included the United States Marine Corps, law enforcement, corporate Investigator, and is currently a professional driver (tractor trailer) for Walmart.
Inspirational speaking, especially to troubled youths has become his growing passion to share his own story of overcoming a very abusive and challenging childhood.