Written by Norm Henry
From his column A Sound Mind
Recently, circumstances I have been facing have challenged me to believe that God is working in all things. Scripture says He is! And I believe Scripture. But I am facing some circumstances and I am not sure how things will turn out. Or what I should do? Or what God wants me to do? I do know they are out of my control, and that God will need to be the One to resolve them. And from my perspective right now, I am not sure I see how God is working in these things. I know He does not always answer my prayers the way I would like, but I really think I believe He works in all things for our good—yours and mine.
Now, most of what I am facing might not really be seen as critical or as a crisis. Related to what some of my friends are facing, my issues are really insignificant. Their problems are critical and intense, with potentially significant consequences. And I am praying for God to intervene! Some of my friends are facing the loss of a loved one. Some are facing a battle with cancer. Some are facing family situations where God needs to “show up.” They really need Him. And for some, it is hard to see where God is working in all things.
Some of you reading this also face significant, critical situations that only God can manage. That is part of the package included with life on this earth. So, the challenge of faith is to believe He is working for our good even when we do not see how.
Interestingly, when I look back at some really tough things I have gone through, I gain perspective as I see where God was working. Because of the pain and hurt and fear, I did not see Him then. But He was working. I need to remember those times. And from a distance, I often see where God is working in my friends’ situations for their good. So, I think I believe God is working in every situation for our good. No exceptions.
Absolute language in the Scripture has been an interest of mine for quite a while. God says “everyone” who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Everyone? Sometimes it feels like there are exceptions, but no, God says everyone. Or “anyone” who trusts in the Lord? Anyone? Scripture says so. Or “whoever,” or “whosoever,” or “whomever” believes will be saved. But, what if they…? Okay, we believe these absolute statements from God. And I think we believe that God will be with us “always” even to end of the world. That He will “never” forsake us. No exceptions!
But we humans sometimes weaken the impact of God’s words by using similar “absolute” phrases loosely. For example: “You never listen.” Well, sometimes I do. Or, “I always clean up after myself.” Okay, sometimes I forget. (You may have other examples.) But with God—being perfect and sovereign and creative—when He says always…He means always!
One more absolute from the Scriptures (my personal favorite): in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word hesed or chesed appears repeatedly. In Psalm 136 alone, hesed is used 26 times. It’s a responsive reading for a congregation that needs to remember God’s faithfulness in the past, His faithfulness in the present, and His faithfulness in the future.
Hesed is translated in various ways, as “everlasting mercy,” “steadfast love,” or enduring “lovingkindness.” We sing it as “His love endures forever.” Now there’s an absolute. God’s love will last for a really long time—like forever. God’s character has always been loving and always will be. As humans, we sometimes use absolutes and don’t mean what we say absolutely. But God does. God’s love endures forever. His character backs that up.
So, can we believe that God is working in everything, all the time, in whatever we are facing, even horribly bad things, even when we cannot see Him? Yes! “In all things God works for our good.” And that includes you and me. Absolutely!
Dr. Norm Henry has served the Church of the Nazarene in numerous capacities as both psychologist and minister.