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*
Many of us know and rely on verses like this in times of trouble. I hadn’t paid attention to the NIV footnotes before hearing Rob Whittaker (Principal of Capernwray Bible School) speak recently at the Halifax Keswick Convention.
Look at one of the alternate wordings mentioned in the footnote:
…that in all things God works together with those who love him to bring about what is good—with those who… (Romans 8:28, NIV*)
In all things, God works with us to bring about what is good.
Clearly there’s more evidence to support the traditional interpretation, or it wouldn’t be the one in the main Bible text. But this other option opens a whole new vista for me.
It changes my focus from how God will look after me to how He will care for others through me.
Yes, we have personal stresses and difficulties, and yes, God is our Hope and our Helper. We can trust that He will work to make all things good in His way and His time. But it’s easy to become selfishly absorbed in our own circumstances and overlook the needs around us. Or to see those needs and be too overwhelmed to know how to start making a difference.
The idea of God working together with us is biblically sound – as long as we remember that He’s in charge. We’re to act as His hands and feet and to represent Him. Christ in us empowers us and uses our small actions to achieve His larger goals.
I’ve been asking God to help me see and hear from His perspective instead of my own. This verse turns my eyes to others, and takes away my fear of not being able to make a difference. Of course I’m not enough on my own. God never intended me to act on my own.
God our Saviour and Redeemer, You created everything in the beginning and You’re still at work creating beauty from our broken pieces and our messes. Thank You for the opportunity to join You in Your work, and thank You that it’s not our responsibility to fix anything. Our responsibility is only to show up with willing and obedient hearts, and to share what You give us with those we meet. Help us to do this, so that others will experience Your great love.
Casting Crowns‘ song, “Love Them Like Jesus,” reminds us of our calling.
*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.