What is good?

anewbeginning2I study every Friday morning with 7 of God’s loveliest daughters. We are learning about how to be whole people in body, mind, and spirit. We study from Bible Study books from First Place 4 Health. This 12-weeks session we studied from a book called A New Beginning. This Friday we are having a celebration breakfast and will share a healthy breakfast and how we have grown over the past couple of months of the study. In preparation for sharing, we are to go through the weekly Bible studies we have completed this session and pick out the ideas that were meaningful to us. It is Easter Sunday as I type this and I am reviewing the materials I had completed from week 2 of the studies. As I read what I had written in response to the study questions, I saw “good” unfold for me in a new way. My favorite verse in all the Bible is Romans 8:28

28 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. (NIV)

Although something has always drawn me to this verse, I could never quite grasp its meaning. How could all things be for my good? Ann Voskamp shed a lot of light on its meaning for me as she taught me to be thankful in and for all things. An attitude of gratitude changes me and the environment about me. That has to be good for everyone. However, I still had trouble believing that there was much good in suffering. What is good about pain, emotional angst, hunger, isolation and grief? The problem was my definition of “good”. I realized that when my study book said, “…when God talks about our good, He doesn’t mean our immediate comfort or happiness. He means that He is making us more and more like Jesus,…” (p.31) I receive this revelation today as my greatest gift this Easter 2013. The Life Application Study Bible tells me that this gift is not for everyone,  its commentary on Romans 8:28 says, “The promise can only be claimed by those who love God and are called according to His purpose…They trust God, not in life’s treasures; they look for their security in heaven, not on earth; they learn to accept, not resent, pain and persecution because God is with them. (p.1895).

to-be-like-jesus

I was with my first son yesterday and watched him struggle getting used to new medication for his panic attacks. He is really suffering. He has been suffering for over a year, but he is also clinging to Jesus and serving others who are suffering in the same way. He says he would never even have seen those people had he not suffered himself.  His new “eyes” were established in suffering. Oh, how difficult for a mother to watch, but such a comfort to know that the suffering is not in vain. My son is so brave. I pray this cup passes from him soon. He is looking to Jesus.

God is with us,

Dawn

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11 comments on “What is good?

    • One look at Jesus and everything changes. Why do I always need someone to turn my head His way? I am still too sensitive to worldly things and let them eclipse His lovely face. I am praying to get past the sins that so easily beset me and run the race to win the prize…one step at a time.

  1. Amen! Because, after all, Romans 8:28 is followed by Romans 8:29. And it’s good to remember also that they’re preceded by Romans 8:26-27, which assures us that His Spirit helps us *in our weakness*, searches and knows our hearts, and keeps making intercession for us. He’s with us, He’s “got it,” He is our ongoing help.
    Praying for you and yours, especially your son. When I put myself in your shoes as mom, my heart aches with you as yours aches with his, my spirit groans. A friend of mine suffered with this, and I know it is a torment. I wish they could find the cause. Mitral valve prolapse is often connected with it–as with my friend– but who knows where the cause-and-effect lies. In the meanwhile… Do you suppose Christ suffered something like it in Gethsemane? Scripture says somewhere that He suffered all things… Quite a thought to consider oneself suffering something like this not alone, but in concert with Christ (outside the box of time). Just some of my odd thoughts…
    God bless you, dear sister. Prayers.

    • If anything could bring on true panic it would be Gethsemane. Yes, I believe that Jesus knew panic. I don’t think I had ever thought about that before. Thanks for your prayers, Sylvia. They are precious to me.

  2. Dawn, I find it so amazing how people so far apart and living such separated lives can be so connected with our Father that our hearts travel down the same trail of thoughts. As my words for the year are restoration and redemption, this verse has come back to me time and time and time again. It’s the “all things” in there. The two “qualifiers” — I love God, and I’m called according to His purpose — make the “all things” a GO in my life, doesn’t it? Yet, I fail at times, I miss the mark,
    I take the wrong path, or I don’t see what I was meant to see. Are these, too, included in the “all things?” My humanness says no, but my heart just has to say yes. I’m a rational person. I take all the facts as I see them, add them up, and come to conclusions based on those things. But in God’s spiritual realm, addition is different. We seem to miss the one fact that God’s dimensions and equations always add up to “good” for a child of God. Even in our mistakes and shortcomings, us humans forget to put the cross in the center of the equation. There is something about confession and knowing I am forgiven that changes me, and even in that, there is restoration and redemption and growth. The ultimate “good” in Romans 8:28 is expressed in vs. 29, isn’t it? That we might become more like Him. And there is no better “good” than that!

    • You are always so precise and clear. Thanks for spelling out the 2 qualifiers. Yes, one must love God and one must be called according to His purpose. I also have been given the GO. I love that we can run together. Thanks for being here.

  3. Dawn, it is that very section of Romans that propels me to become an outspoken advocate for changes, in spite of the pain I feel when people I love think I have left the scriptures. You have no doubt followed some of my out loud thinking that Christians should consider letting go of the word “marriage,” because it has for a very long time now included civil ceremonies. I can see it so clearly because I was forced to have a ” civil ceremony” to make a legal “marriage” out of my Holy Matrimony. Any Christian outside of the Church Of England, getting married in Great Britain as I did, would have had to have a civil ceremony to make their church service a legal marriage. That experience, helped me to differentiate between the Holy Sacrament and the “marriage.” That’s why I was pondering the word, covenant. There must be a way to elevate our covenant between a man and a woman for the purpose of having children before God, and separate it from civil unions called marriage. All things … All good things… take us back to our beginnings, unclutter our minds of worldly influences, clear our pathways to our Godly living and set priorities in God’s ways. I am not surprised that we share a love for that verse. Things worth thinking about and doing are often risky and cause pain. Thinking of your son and your concerns there… Big hugs, Momma!

    • Dear Carrie,

      The problem with marriage and civil unions, as I see it, is that marriage was taken from the church and made a requirement of the state. Marriage is the church’s domain. The state really has no business interfering in matters of the church. [big sigh here] I got a state license to be married because I needed it to be legal, but my marriage vows were to God, not the state. Herein lies the ‘rub’ for me. Marriage is God-ordained. God declared the union to be between a man and a woman. Marriage is NOT 2 men and it is not 2 women. In fact, Scripture is VERY clear that same-sex intercourse is sin. I did not make the rules, I only follow the Manufacturer’s Handbook. I get your point about civil ceremonies and differentiating marriage in the church by calling it Matrimony. It IS a solution, but ‘matrimony’ is not a common distinction. The common word among Christians is marriage and I’d like to keep that for what God intended. Those outside the definition can call their ceremonies civil unions. A civil union would have afford them all the rights and privileges of a couple being married. There really is no need for a definition change.

      Funny, I had a civil ceremony in a state that would allow me to be married at age 18. At the time I was married, you had to be 21 in PA. I came home to PA, after obtaining the legal papers, and was married in front of my minister to be married in front of God–just the opposite of you.

      Interesting following your thoughts on the subject,
      Dawn

      • You know I’m pondering…. Because your points for your perspective are my points for the opposite. I too, had to have a civil ceremony to make my marriage legal. All my life I have seen couples go to a justice of the peace to get ‘married’. But the Catholic Church has stood solidly on the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony as a requirement before God.

        When I ask God for a solution to this painful problem, He pats me on the head and tells me, “I already have given you a solution. Christian bonds are Holy. They are not the same as civil marriage” (which we Christians have already accepted within the law.)

        You know I am pondering, because I feel it has to be the Christians who rise up above and look for solutions. Words’ meanings change over time. We already let the word ‘marriage’ define ungodly people who are bound within the law, but have no knowledge of Godly choices. Now the question is, do we hijack back that word and declare all people in a civil ceremony ‘not’ really married? Or do we define ourselves as married by God’s laws, using words like sacrament, covenant, Holy, ……

        I have spent years (since the 80s) having a knee jerk reaction to this… But in the same breath I have considered civil unions between unchurched men and women, ‘marriage’. I can no longer lie to myself. Godly unions between a man and a woman ought to be more than the civil union marriage I had to have, to make my union legal. And we already allowed the word ‘marriage’ to include ‘civil unions’.

        Pray, pray, pray… God looks to His people for Godly solutions. Praying and pondering…

        Still pondering……

  4. Thinking much of your dear man-child and his suffering this morning, as well as the many we know who suffer from depression. Lord, wrap them in your love and shield them from harm.

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