Romans 8:28

“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” The New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Version, Fourth Edition, ©2010.

Like other beloved verses I memorized as a child in Sunday School, Romans 8:28 evokes a comforting vibe that has carried me through my own life’s journeys. Over the years, this verse has been a source of hope, assuring me of the promise that God is always present to bring about good, even during difficult events in life. The promise tells me that all things—good and bad—ultimately work together for good. With this promise I can take leaps of faith, live and love boldly, and attempt noble things to make a safer, fairer, healthier, and greener world.

A brilliant, educated scholar, the Apostle Paul wrote eloquently with conviction to the peoples of his time and place. In Romans 8:28, Paul addresses living by the power of God in the midst of suffering. Paul understood suffering. He endured enormous physical hardships, imprisonments, and near-death experiences on his missionary journeys. Never bitter, his challenges deepened his faith and strengthened his determination.

In our modern world, catastrophes such as recent hurricanes, unspeakable violence, and terrorist attacks remind us that we do indeed live in a dangerous time and place. The horrors of such human suffering can easily obscure our vision of God. In times like these, I think about Paul’s perseverance in the face of unimaginable danger and persecution. Paul’s words inspire me to believe in God’s promise that all things will work together for good, since all things are connected with the purpose of God.

One of the few privileges of growing older is that you’re entitled to reflect upon your own life’s journeys with a certain wit and wisdom. You will see how the ebbs and flows of life ultimately turned into something good. It is then that you will see God’s work in your life.

Prayer for Advent: As we walk the road to Bethlehem with Mary and Joseph on their difficult journey, help us to see your presence throughout our own life’s journeys—and to remember that in all things—good and bad—your purpose prevails.

Blessings of the season to you and yours, Martha Rinne

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