Why God Can’t Be Our Sugar Daddy
We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. (Romans 8:28 AMP)
One of the many lessons I’ve been learning recently is directly linked to this oft quoted, but I would argue, largely misunderstood verse from the New Testament book of Romans. The conviction on my heart is this: When did this become the anthem, “everything’s going to be okay” that’s so pervasive in our churches, and even the secular culture? Paul wrote the book of Romans to the Jewish and Gentile Christians who were living in Rome in the times of the early church. Rome was a multi-cultural, mutli-ethnic city, but no one was driving around with “Co-exist” bumper stickers on their Vespas. Christianity was NOT tolerated by anyone, Jewish or Gentile. Christians were regularly hunted and persecuted simply for practicing their faith in Jesus Christ. Paul himself had been beaten, tortured, and enslaved multiple times for speaking the name of Jesus. So here he was writing to a group of people who were trying to live an illegal life of devotion to the Son of God who had risen from the dead, all while raising families, going to work and trying to stay alive under the harshest of circumstances.
This verse says more to me in what it DOESN’T say. It DOESN’T say “all things work together for YOUR good”. It doesn’t say you’re going to look back on whatever circumstance you’re in and laugh about it later, or even see the logic in it. And I don’t know about you but I don’t see the logic in babies being born still-born, dying shortly after birth, or contracting deadly diseases. And no, I don’t see how dads walking out on their children and wives is EVER for anyone’s good in the long run, or any number of the other countless injustices in life. Often the reality of what we deal with here on earth is just brutal and devastating. Who can wrap their brains around moms dying of breast cancer while her children are still young? Or babies being shot dead as they sit in their strollers?
I think to truly understand this verse you have to first “get” what a relationship with God is all about. The sum total of a life knowing God is NOT about putting the shattered pieces of your life back together. Chances are though, through loving God and making Him the number one priority in your life, your life WILL become markedly better, but that’s not God’s purpose for creating you, seeking you out, going after you with the most powerful force of love in the universe. No, His purpose is to put His godly character into you so He can have complete and total fellowship with you, uninterrupted by sin. He wants to instill peace, authentic joy, serenity, and holiness right in that same space where fear, anxiety, anger, loneliness, and control are currently living.
God is holy and because He is holy, He knows that we can’t be one with Him while we’re still full of darkness. But His love for us is so total and so complete, that He comes into our lives, no matter what the condition, and loves us unconditionally. Right where we are. And we never, ever have to change. The circumstances in our lives have but one purpose: to drive us to His arms so we can “trade up” so to speak. Got loneliness? God has TOTAL communion with Him to fill in EVERY single gap and pang of desperation in your heart. Got anger? God brings total peace to EVERY situation. Every situation, not just the ones that work out in your favor. Got fear? God has a track record of every second in the history of the world of NEVER leaving one of His followers, NEVER betraying one of His children, and never EVER leaving someone to figure out on their own what’s going to happen next.
God is good and He is good all the time, but He never promised us that we would see that all things work together for good. I don’t know about you, but my walk with God requires a daily gut check to see if I’m really walking WITH Him, or if I’m just spouting hyperbole and trite little sayings. Am I really using my faith to trust God at His word, even though ten out of ten times I can’t see what or why He’s doing stuff in my life? Or do I throw a fit because I can’t possibly see how ________, ____________ or _________ could be in the category of “all things working together for good”, mainly MY good? Door number two for me most of the time.
So for me, this passage is about WHO is on the throne. If it’s truly God, then I don’t have to see how things work out. In fact, I don’t even concern myself with those details. I can just take God at His word that He IS at work in ALL areas of my life and the lives of His precious people whom He created in His image (that’s all of us, for those of you keeping score at home), and that He IS allowing/disallowing some circumstances based on furthering HIS kingdom. If God’s not on the throne, then I’m calling Him a liar. His promises aren’t true. His love isn’t faithful, and this life is all some kind of cosmic joke. As a parent of a child on the autism spectrum I can tell you that I often don’t see how ANYthing is going to work out EVER and I go to bed feeling helpless and hopeless. But that’s on me, NOT God. I can choose to use what little faith I have to trust God for that minute of time, or I can stab it like a pincushion with pins of fear, unbelief, indignation, and mockery. It’s always my choice.
What’s your choice? To take God at His word that He really does have your back in whatever it is you’re going through? I hope so. And just as importantly to me is that I hope we can be here for each other during the times when we’re too weak to see God in all of this. It would be a supreme tragedy for God to have created all of us in His image and then to not be in relationship with one another when we need each other the most.