The Hope of an Addict
Romans 8:28, 38, 39 We know that for those who love God all things work together for good…
It is natural for my faith and hope to be warped by my own defective desires. It is natural, but not often helpful. When I was a child, I thought it would be rewarding if God gave me diabetes, asthma or some other not-to-bad illness that might make me special. I would like to say that I have grown out of my stupidity, but the immaturity of my childhood desires will probably be seen again when, in 20 or 30 years, I look back on my current aspirations. In my addiction to my own appetite, I have an inherent me-bias, which twists my expectations of God.
When I went to treatment, I read this passage and found great comfort in Paul’s words that all things work together for good for those who love God. Sure God, I made a fantastic mess of life, but you promised to fix it all, right? After a couple days of treatment, I was a reformed man, ready to have my family and career back. OK God, lesson learned! Put it all back where it was now. I hope in you! Months later, when life was not yet made perfect, I began to suspect that God was not working on my plan or timetable.
Paul did indeed say that all things will work out for good for those who follow God. It would be incorrect though, to say that God works everything out for my version of good. My plan is so nearsighted and self-serving that I have many times had to thank God for protecting me from myself. Thankfully, God works out his plan, not mine.
This does not mean that God will not bring something good from my failures and suffering. Thankfully, He can bring life from destruction. I am living proof of that. God can always grow beauty from disaster but that may not make the disaster less awful. It is not up to me to tell another if or when he or she must be thankful for pain. It is profoundly ignorant and naïve of me to tell my brother that God has caused his suffering and that one day he will see the value in the death of a loved one.
God does not always work things out to our specifications of goodness in this life. Though Job prevailed in God’s cosmic showdown with Satan, things did not go as well for his children. Job lived to see the good life return, but his children died, never seeing (in this life at least) the good that would come from their suffering.
God’s version of good is often on a very different scale and perspective than ours. If Job’s children could talk to us now, thousands of years later, they may well speak of the goodness in God’s plan. I doubt however, that they saw it as they were crushed to death.
Paul revealed in the closing words of this passage where we may find our hope. He insisted that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God. Though I may cause and experience horrific pain and though the world may kill my body, nothing in all of creation can steal me away from God’s love. I may lose my flesh but nothing may rob me of my spirit. No matter what happens in this life, all things, in the end, come to good for those who follow God.
Nothing can ever separate us from the love of God. We hope then, not in our own plans, but in God’s promise that we will never be separated from him.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.