One passage of Scripture that I love is found in Romans Chapter 8, verse 28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.”
All things. All things? All things! The good things obviously come from God. It is so easy to recognize that and be thankful for those things. The gifts that surround us in our daily lives. The beauty of the earth, the bounteous harvests, the peace and safety, the health and wealth, the good and wonderful, yes, those things fill our gratitude lists and are mentioned with smiling faces and warm feelings.
But the scripture doesn’t say all good and wonderful things work together for our good. It says ALL things. Some things are hard and sad, ugly, embarrassing, testing, heavy, dreary, draining, and unbearable. And while it can be hard to see how God is working in those times and with those things, usually after we have made it through, we can look back and see how God uses trying times and heavy loads to make us stronger, because we carried those heavy loads with his help; holier, because we spent more time on our knees praying for relief, guidance, and understanding; more empathetic, because we know the pain we see in others; and more generous because we know what a relief it was when someone gave to us.
Many years ago, we moved our family to a different state for a job opportunity my husband had that was too good to pass up. We put our house on the market, and were able to buy a new house in the new state knowing that we could pay both mortgages for a short time because the new job was so good and housing wasn’t very expensive. Our budget was tight, but doable, and as soon as that old house sold, we would enjoy the extra of the better salary. But the house didn’t sell. For three and a half years, the house didn’t sell. We didn’t have any extra money to make any renovations, and we had set the price as low as we could. We tried to rent it out, and that never worked out either. We prayed, we fasted, we wondered why. And we lived as if we were making less than we had before the move.
Then, on a visit to the old house, a neighbor we loved came to talk and told me about a job opening in that town that was actually in the career path that my husband had wanted to get into but had struggled so to do. When I got home, I told him about the job, and he applied. We waited. He interviewed and was hired! We were able to sell our house in the new state within a week and moved back into the old house. We spent another three years there, then felt drawn to be closer to our family as our grandmothers were both in failing health. We were able to find a new job in that career and a new house where we wanted to be, but knew it was unlikely that we would be able to sell that old house. To our amazement, the house sold just as we made our move.
Since then, I have looked back and realized that it was actually a blessing that our prayers and pleadings for that old house to sell weren’t answered. My husband has had a better career; our family was able to be close enough for my children to have visits with their great-grandmas before they passed away; and we have had many relationships, experiences, and opportunities that came as a result of living where we did when we did, all because the old house was there to welcome us back.
This month, as we focus on our positive culture of abundance, I invite you to look around and recognize the gifts and blessings in the hard things. Watch for the hand of God moving in your life and in the lives of those you love. Watch for opportunities to give help when you can from your abundance. Remember to ask for help when you need it, knowing that it is a blessing to those who can and do help to be able to do so. Truly, “. . . all things work together for good to them that love God.”