"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." Roman 8:28 (NIV)
All I could see were the hard parts. Everything we would have to give up: sleep, money, comfort, familiarity, others' approval. All the hard things we would have to navigate: huge expenses and significant changes.
What if our sons resented us for re-arranging their lives forever? What if our parents and extended family didn't approve? What if we exhausted our time, emotions and money only to end up with broken hearts and an empty bank account?
How could God work all that together for good? I couldn't see how. I could only see "hard."
Yet it was undeniable. Confirmations chased us down. My husband and I knew God was calling our family to adopt a severely malnourished baby girl from Ethiopia.
After a year of paperwork, waiting, praying and wondering how, our family traveled to Ethiopia to get our little girl in October 2009.
Was it hard? Yes. Even more than I imagined.
But as I trace God's hand over the past five years since we brought Aster home, I see Him working so many things together for good. I see a handwritten love letter, written to our little girl from her Heavenly Father on every page of our adoption story.
I see God working, even the hard things, together for good.
Despite our inadequacy, sadness and fear of the unknown when Aster was diagnosed with a speech disorder, global developmental delays, low muscle tone and sensory processing disorder, I now see God working it all for good.
I see God working, even the overwhelming things, together for good.
I see how a year of sleepless nights brought out servants hearts in our teenage sons when they saw their dad struggling with depression caused by sleep-deprivation. So they decided to take turns sleeping on a mattress in their sister's room to relieve her anxiety and give us sleep.
I see God working, even the embarrassing things, together for good.
Like the day I had a meltdown in my car because I was overwhelmed by the task of carpooling three kids and coordinating Aster's therapy appointments. The day a stranger tapped on my window to see if I was okay. That same afternoon I ran out of gas on my way to get my youngest son, and my oldest son, with a new cast on his broken foot, had to push our car off the road. I see awesome stories for them to tell their children one day.
And on those days when my reality doesn't look or feel like "good" to me, I ask God to help me see how He's keeping the promise found in today's key verse: "that in all things [He} works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Roman 8:28).
What I've discovered is this: God is always working things together for good, but not just for our good. Sometimes we are part of His working things together for someone else's good.
You see, I believe Jesus heard a mother in Africa praying for her baby. A mother who was living in the middle of "hard" like I'd never imagined. A mother who couldn't see how she could give her little girl the nurture and nutrition she needed.
And when God heard that mama's prayers, He tapped on the hearts of a family in North Carolina who loved Him and were called according to His purpose.
I believe God saw an orphanage in Ethiopia searching for a forever family to provide unconditional love and medical care for an 8-pound, 6-month old baby with pneumonia.
So Jesus went back to that family in North Carolina who prayed that He would reveal Himself to them and through them, knowing this little girl would be an answer to that prayer.
When all I could see was hard, all God could see was how.
Is there a relationship or situation in your life where all you see is hard? Have you asked God how He can work this together for good?
I don't know about you, but I need a tangible reminder that He can. A visual to help me see how He does, like the beautiful bead necklace I'm wearing today made from repurposed bullets found in the rubble of Ethiopian soil.
Each time I look in the mirror I remember how God answered a desperate mother's prayers for her baby's needs and filled my family's longing to experience more of Him. Only He could know how much we needed the gift of a little girl to light up our world, and to remind us that He indeed works all things together for good!
Lord, some days all I can see is the hard stuff. Help me see how I can be part of YOUR working all things together for the good of someone else today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY: Ephesians 1:11, "Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan." (NLT)
REFLECT AND RESPOND: Is there a situation or relationship where God may want you to be part of His "working all things together for good" for someone else?
Make a few "deposits" of good in a hard relationship or circumstance this week as you ask God to reveal His heart to you and through you.
© 2014 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org