Let’s all just admit it, life is hard. There are times when difficulties come and we are asked to walk through them. It is unavoidable. in fact, it is one of the few guarantees in this world. How we deal with adversity and struggle reveals much about how we have oriented our life. Through observation I have noticed a tendency to face life’s hardships based on a very poor and inaccurate theology.
“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.” (Romans 8:28 NIV) Those of us who would self identify as Christ-followers love to apply the principle of this verse when facing life’s adversities. I have noticed, however, we apply the wrong principle. We assume that God intends that all our challenges become good things. You know the old saying “when life gives you lemons then make lemonade.” We assume that God intends that all our lemons become sweet tasting, refreshingly chilled lemonade. Here is the problem, sometimes God intends adversity to be just that, adversity. It is supposed to be hard, difficult, uncomfortable and is not going to be anything different. God never even implies in this verse that He will turn bad things into what we will consider good. He says directly and implicitly that He will use bad things to make good stuff grow in us. HUGE DIFFERENCE!
I have watched as we have applied this principle like this: 1. bad thing happens - we react and moan and groan looking for anyway we can cope. (I am surprised by how many times the coping mechanism is something like drinking, exercising, eating, cursing...and it is rarely prayer.) 2. the events turn out positive - we then declare loudly God is good. Let me be clear here ... GOD IS GOOD. My problem is this, God was good when we were moaning and groaning and coping. His goodness is not in anyway contingent on whether or not he makes lemonade. His goodness is transcendent. His goodness is in the fact that He is God. Goodness shows when He does not respond to our eating, drinking, exercising, cursing....etc. His goodness never fails, never leaves, never changes - He is GOOD.
I am increasingly aware that our love for God and celebration of Him is tied to our comfort. God is worthy of my worship and praise all the more when I am handed lemons in life. He is good and His mercy endures forever!
Two things I am trying to learn from this observation. First, when life becomes challenging I am trying to learn in those moments to respond and cope with praise and worship that God is good and has not abandoned me. (as opposed to complaining, yelling, pouting, whining.....) Second, I am trying to appreciate the richness that comes when I am aware that when all else is bad God is still good. He is always good. I refuse to say from this time forward that God is good only when events turn in my favor. Lord, I will declare your goodness when the rain falls and the sun shines.