When the tough times come

Recently I spoke with a 29 year old woman. She is married with a young family and is wrestling with very real faith/theological issues. When she looks back on her life and the hurts and hurdles she’s faced, she wonders where God was during those times.

It’s an all too familiar question – among many believers, for non-Christians, for those walking away from Christian community and faith – ‘where was/is God in my suffering?’

My own life journey is spotted with moments of deep personal tragedy and trial: my parents’ divorce, the deaths of my Grandparents, life in a difficult blended family, a destructive and broken marriage, a miscarriage – times of intense grief and loss, great disappointment and hurt.

It was around the time of my maternal Grandparents’ deaths (they were killed together in a car accident when I was 11) that I first recall learning the verse from Romans 8:28 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. My parents spoke it to us – we even knew a song about it that we would sing around the house. In ALL THINGS God works for the GOOD of those who love Him. All things, all times, always and all ways. We believed it. And so we entered a period of grief and loss with an expectancy that God was at work for good amongst it. We anticipated seeing Him working a tragic situation for His glory and we were not disappointed.

Years later, in the grip of a painful divorce the same truth rang in my heart. God is working for good. Somewhere in the mess, hurt, disappointment and fear His light is shining, His love is prevailing, His purposes are unfolding, His will is coming to pass. I looked for it. I expected it. And I saw God bring the most incredible healing, beauty and redemption – not only in my own life but, by His grace, in the lives of others too.

God works all things together for good.

It’s not a quick fix remedy. Hurt will come. Hardships befall everyone. We experience the darkest nights and the deepest of pains.

It’s about having a belief that nothing in God’s economy is ever wasted. The knowledge that even if we don’t see it with our own eyes or fully understand it in our life time – He is constantly at work for good in all things.

Just a thought …

Back to the woman I was talking with. I completely trust that God will help her to see that He has been working for good in her life – even when she thought she was alone. But I am grateful that I knew going IN to suffering that God would be there.

As parents and leaders we have the chance to instil such a belief in our young people.

Contrary to the cultural expectation of Gen Z – life will not always be easy. There is a real and present enemy, in a world set for decay – bad things will happen to ‘good’ people – we can expect that.

But ALWAYS God is working for our good. We can help our children develop the skill of seeing His activity in amongst great sadness and confusion. We can lay a firm foundation; a surety in the love of God expressed most potently in Jesus, an understanding that we will face big and small challenges in our lifetimes but that our God is bigger still. We can share with them the stories of His faithfulness in difficult times. We can grow in them an expectation that in the deepest of hurts and the greatest of losses God is at work to bring about his will and purposes. What an incredible opportunity!!

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