No GOOD thing does He withhold from those who walk UPRIGHTLY.  Psalm 84:11b

I’ve often volunteered that my favorite attribute of God is His sovereignty; that He is in control of everything that happens in creation.  What a lot of food for thought, this divine characteristic provides….. I continue to work out the implications of God being the controller of all that happens.

One book my friend and I studied this fall centered on the fact that we, as humans, are terrible controllers of our own lives.  The only antidote to anxiety is to hand back over to God ALL that concerns us.  HE is the happy ruler; we are miserable at TRYing to run our lives and those of others. (1 Tim 6:15… He…. is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords)

Now if God is controlling everything, then there are ‘no maverick molecules’, no unguided dust particles spinning haphazardly beyond the care of God. And even though this world is filled with both evil and good, we finite humans often mis-evaluate what seems evil and good to us.  Infinite God who created the universe, He alone is the ultimately arbiter and definer of good and evil.

If faith trusts and relies on God’s word as TRUE truth, then I, who have been given divine faith as a child of God CHOOSE to believe and take Him at His word. Following from that premise is this:  I WILL accept that whatever comes into my life is meant for my good, as defined by God. 

·         But what if that so-called ‘good’ contains pain and suffering? 

·         How can we call rape and cancer and earthquakes ‘good’?

·         Can we really believe a ‘loving’ God would purposefully send suffering?

These are all legitimate questions and I, limited in scope, can’t presume to understand all.  But I DO trust what God has said in His word and what He has shown me in my life and what I have learned from the lives of other Christians.

I’m not going to make a verse-by-verse defense of this view, for I believe that if we study God’s word without the presupposition of, “ My God would never….” we’ll see how God used/ allowed/ ordained what  He hates, i.e. evil. 

We find in many places verses like (paraphrase)   “You, my brothers, meant it (my sale into slavery)  for evil, but God meant it for good, that many people would be saved” Genesis 50:20

The comforting truth that softens the sting of future suffering is that God has planned plenty of grace to accompany each and every event that comes into our lives.  I call it: pre-positioned stockpiles of grace. Another way to say it is that each ‘pain’ comes ‘pre-loaded’ with grace.

Here are a couple of questions to consider:

·         Do we really think that we know what is good for us, our spouse or our children/grandchildren?

·         Haven’t you ever said something like, “Well, I would never have chosen XYZ, but I am so grateful for what I have gained/learned”?

What kinds of good could God intend from the suffering that He allows/ sends/ ordains?

Since God is the ultimate creative God, many are the possibilities.  Firstly, let’s look at God’s will for our lives:  that we be sanctified (1 Thess 4:3). It makes sense that if God wants to burn off worldly dross and fit us out to enjoy heaven with Him, that He will arrange circumstances that grow us more like Jesus.  He has to wean us off of worldly pleasures, leaving space to grow our appetites for heavenly, holy things. 

If we have been living on candy all our lives, taking our candy away will seem cruel. As a friend told my daughter-in-law who has suffered strep throat multiple times this spring:

“God loves you enough…… to work on you, to give you hard things”

Each morning and multiple times through the day when I fear those HARD THINGS, I talk to Maria and exhort myself:

·         Have faith in God’s future grace.

·         Don’t preview all the possible ‘what-ifs’!   God is your Papa.  He is taking care of that.

·         Don’t hold your breath.  BREATHE!  You don’t have to keep it all together.  You’re just a child.  That’s His job.

·         Just trust and obey.

·         He’s got it all covered and thought out.  Manna for the day.  Grace for the day.  Mercies for the day.

·         Rest in His provision. 

·         Be outward focused.  Who around you needs a hand, is discouraged?

 One last thought about God’s promise in Psalm 84:11: that last word uprightly  (Strong’s Hebrew #8549 – Tamiym) means integral/together or whole.  The parallel idea in the NT is found when Jesus teaches us to stop worrying about all the different concerns in our lives.  Remember when Jesus is teaching in the hills?  He exhorts His hearers NOT to be anxious.  ‘Anxious’ in Greek is the word merimnao (Strongs Greek 3308). Etymologically derived from merizo = “to divide;” and nous = “mind”, it pictures very scattered-brained folk.   So when we are anxious or worried, we are NOT integral, we are divided into different pieces.  We even say things like, “I was torn apart…I’m so divided…..I’m meeting myself coming and going”

God calls us to be whole, integral and upright.  And when we are, by the power of the Holy Spirit, then the promise is for us that NO GOOD THING is withheld from us. The ONLY way to be in our right mind, to be one, is to focus on Him, on the Kingdom, on our inheritance/treasure in heaven, on His promises of future grace.

Father, unless you help us, we will buzz around fragmented and frazzled.  Pull us together, give us strength to rely on You, to put all our eggs in Your basket.