Lectionary Reading: Romans 8:26-39 (NRSV)
“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”
We review these famous words from the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:28. They can be daunting when one considers all of the awful things that human beings endure.
We know that all things change and sometimes it is for the better but many times our perception tells us otherwise.
Our human bodies begin to degrade and we spend billions on products to halt this process. Eventually time wins out and our bodies fail us. From a Christian perspective, one could take the balcony view on human life and point toward life after death in order to claim that the good would be the heavenly reward.
But getting there can be problematic. Dementia sometimes takes hold of us along the way from point A to point B and we may rightly critique this statement to ask, “How in the world does Alzheimer’s work for anyone’s good?”
In order to preserve the integrity of the Biblical statement, some then claim that the problem lies with the afflicted. Either some unconfessed sin or lack of faith is trotted out as the culprit for the dementia. What might be a better solution is to admit that Paul is talking in generalities. We know that when we go with an absolute, we can usually find loopholes in the logic.
I look at Paul’s statement and believe that God can work with any awful situation and cause some good to arise. This is the crux of the crucifixion and the resurrection for me. I don’t believe that God caused the suffering and death of Jesus. Rather, human stubbornness called for this. Yet, in spite of humanity’s work against God’s love in Christ, God shows us that suffering and death do not get the last word.
We are people of the resurrection and this statement of Paul’s reminds us to see God at work even in the midst of suffering. God may grant us the strength and courage to endure hardship and troubles when they come our way. We see God at work through suffering not as the author but as the rock in the midst of the storm.
This important perspective is one in which we gather together when we worship to remind ourselves of the strength that we have available. In this, we are working together for good in all circumstances and for all peoples. Thanks be to God!
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