All things work for good (11-05-20)
A Bible Reading (Romans 8:26-28)
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 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.
On Friday we celebrated VE day in a muted way with most events cancelled due to the lockdown, partying thwarted by social distancing, thanksgiving perhaps tinged with frustration. Even on VE day in 1945, there would have been conflicting emotions, alluded to by the Queen in her speech on Friday evening. There were celebrations at victory in Europe but the war was still going on elsewhere with horrendous human suffering and loss of life. There was good and bad co-existing side by side. The Japanese did not surrender until 15 August and even then the war did not officially end until the surrender papers were signed on 2 September 1945.
I have found the idea of God working for good in all things a real challenge at different times in my life, especially when things have appeared to be predominantly bad. How could God possibly be working for good, when our daughter, Anna, was diagnosed with a brain tumour? How can God be working for good when a pandemic of highly infectious disease is striding across our planet, leaving a growing death toll in its wake.
The Greek words translated ‘all things working for good’, can imply everything contributing or cooperating together for good, but they can also imply intermingling or wrestling. The good is intermingled or wrestles with the bad. That’s what happens in real life. We don’t suddenly have to pretend that bad is good! The bad is still bad and it needs to be acknowledged and faced up to honestly.
In our present situation we may have to face serious illness, the loss of loved ones before their time, the struggle of self-isolation, and separation from our families. However, every cloud has a silver lining. We are also learning some significant lessons. Globally, carbon emissions have been dramatically reduced, with a noticeable improvement in the atmosphere over large industrial areas. Nationally we have come to appreciate the work of our NHS rather than taking it for granted. Locally, we are re-learning the importance of community as we support and care for one another. You will be able to think of other benefits. These are all things working together for our common good, and things to be continued when the immediate emergency is past.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for working for our good even during the difficult situations we face in life. When we are feeling overwhelmed, send your Holy Spirit to help us in our weakness. May the Spirit interpret the cries of our hearts and turn them into prayers. Remind us of the good things and give us a fresh appreciation of your sustaining love in good times and bad.