Hearing What I Want to Hear
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
According to today’s passage, all things eventually work out for good for those who love God. Visiting jail, I’ve heard this passage misused to suggest that God would get the addict out of the painful consequences of his actions. The Bible says all things will work out for good for me, so I believe that God will make the judge let me out at my next court appearance. The problem of course, is that the addict’s idea of what is good and what God’s idea of what is good can be vastly different.
In my own addiction, I begged God to save me from consequences but what I needed was for my addiction to hurt enough that I’d be willing to change. Thankfully, God gave me what I needed and not what I desired. There’s often a great distance between what the addict wants and what he needs according to God.
This isn’t just condition of the addict though. We’ve all probably misinterpreted this verse to reassure ourselves that everything will turn out OK. When a loved one is ill or struggling with addiction, we pray, we seek God, and we read the Bible. Then, we hear what we want to hear. We claim today’s verse, hoping that it promises that everything will be fixed according to our definition of good.
The problem with that, and the thing we must realize, is that we are almost always incapable of knowing what is truly best for us in the eternal sense. If given the choice of plotting our long-term future, we’d get it wrong almost every time, choosing what we want, instead of what God knows we truly need.
His ultimate goal is that we know and love him forever. To that end, he may allow and use tremendous difficulties and trials in our lives, because he knows that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18).
This is too difficult for some to accept. At this point, some will walk away from God. What good is praying if you don’t give me what I want? Faith though, means abandoning our plan for his. In the midst of life’s trials, that can be horribly difficult. The truth that we must accept though, is that God is the only one who knows – and is capable of bringing about – that which is eternally good for us.