God Works for Good
“…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
I view life through the lens of Romans 8:28. My experience with God working good out of hard circumstances are so numerous it is impossible for me to think otherwise and impossible not search for the good. That doesn’t mean situations like a year-long Covid pandemic aren’t challenging and full of longings. Longings and blessings.
LONGING: a strong, persistent desire or craving, especially for something unattainable or distant. (Dictionary.com)
· We are blessed to have a new home but long to invite others to share it with us. Indeed, we will schedule a huge party as soon as we know it’s safe.
· Blessed that our daughter is working from home and living with us. Blessed that two older grandkids Jacob and Grace came, quarantined a week, tested Covid- free, then spent several more weeks with us over Christmas and into the new year.
· Blessed that our children have shown deep concern for their “aged” parents. (But do they really need to remind us every single day just how old we are? I think not.)
· Blessed to stay connected, reading books on WhatsApp with four-year-old Noel in Australia, but we long to return to AU for in-person birthday parties and play time with him, 15-month-old Caroline, and their mom and dad.
· Blessed to attend “Drive-by” graduation and birthday parties for granddaughter, Maddie, but we long to restart the Blue-Bloods-style, family dinners we enjoyed before Covid with our North Georgia family.
· Blessed to worship together, but long to blend our voices with our congregation and church choir, lifting praise to God.
· Blessed to have vaccines and a hope for better, freer days ahead. Blessed that this year of isolation made us appreciate the freedoms we enjoyed to travel, to gather, to connect with friends and family near and far. And we long to see smiles, touch, shake hands, and hug. Especially hug!
· Blessed that God’s Word sustains us and gives us hope. I often call on these three passages in trying times: Psalm 139, Romans 8:26-39, and this favorite. “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23 ESV
How have you managed this pandemic? Share your encouragement in the comments. And please, sign up to receive my occasional blogs and newsletters.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 1:3 ESV
You’ll find the word “Blessed” written on an abundance of plaques, framed prints, and farmhouse pillows. We say, “I’m so blessed.” And throughout the South you’ll hear “Bless her heart.”
Marissa Henley, a writer for the First Five App, Proverbs 31 Ministries asked, “When do you feel blessed?” Is it on a bright, sunny day? You’re rushing to meet a friend for lunch, and the perfect parking spot, directly in front of the cafe’s front door, opens up? The menu includes all your favorite food, and the chef outdoes herself? Is it when things click into place, and your life and your relationships are all going smoothly at the same time? Maybe you feel extra blessed when you get a good report from your doctor? Or when friends or family gather around a large table with laughter and good food?
The pandemic of 2020 took away many of those occasions for us to feel blessed.
But maybe that’s not all bad. Maybe it provides us the opportunity to realize our blessings go way beyond our situations. Maybe it reminds us that our hope is misplaced if it is in the blessings of God rather than in God himself. Maybe it brings to our souls the desire to praise and glorify God for the blessings we have in Christ. Eph 1:4-10 list the blessings God gives us in Christ. Among them: we are chosen, adopted, forgiven, redeemed, lavished with grace, given a purpose, given an inheritance, and sealed with the Holy Spirit. All these blessings are ours—despite politics, despite angry rhetoric, and despite a Covid pandemic.
What if every time we saw the word blessed, or used the word ourselves, it triggered our focus to praise and thank God? Yes, thank him for our earthly blessings, but even more thank him for the abundance of spiritual blessings we have in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Pray with me: Father we praise you, we bless you, we honor and glorify your name. Jesus, we thank you for coming to earth to bring us the gifts of salvation, eternal life, peace amidst strife, joy in any circumstance, and the gift of your Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and comfort us. We truly have all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. Help us to focus on the blessings you shower on us and not on circumstances. Help us daily to return to your word and find your peace and comfort there. We love you and thank you. In the name of Jesus Christ who bestows on us every spiritual gift. Amen.
Leave a comment. Share some of the blessings your heart rejoices over today.
the greatest gift of all
Wow! It is here, and I am overwhelmed! A vaccine developed, tested, and approved in only 9 months? REALLY? “They” said it couldn’t be done in less than two to four years. But it’s here. NOW! Praise God! December 8, 2020, in Coventry, England, Margaret Keenan, a feisty, red-headed 91-year-old received the first Covid-19 vaccine! Last week in the US our brave health workers began to receive the first US vaccine, and a second vaccine begins distribution this week!
(Okay, I recognize the overuse of exclamations, but people, a vaccine!!! And warning—there will be more!)
On December 8, Steven Powis, medical director of NHS in England, said, “This really feels like the beginning of the end.” And that small inkling of hope is a great Christmas present, indeed!
Before the end of 2020, thousands in the US will receive vaccines. Praise God!
Grateful. That’s what I feel. Grateful and blessed! And thankful for medical personnel and all frontline workers, essential personnel, teachers, and to those who worked day and night to develop the vaccine. Thankful for those who participated in testing programs.
Merry Christmas! And won’t we all have a merrier Christmas knowing that the most vulnerable will receive the vaccine if they choose and anticipating that all will have the opportunity to receive it in the months ahead?
Because a vaccine means hugs, kisses, hand shakes. Singing in church. Basking in smiles not hidden by masks. Eating in restaurants, flying to spend time with family and friends. Hopefully, lessening of depression, and alcohol and drug usage. Abundant joy!
But as great as this early Christmas present is, it isn’t the greatest gift of all. For all the good the vaccine brings, it doesn’t bring peace of heart, forgiveness of sins, or eternal life. The gift of God’s son, whose birth we celebrate on Christmas Day, is truly the greatest gift of all.
Covid could morph into another pandemic. Another virus may come our way. Not to be a downer, but all manner of evil can beset us. But the True Greatest Gift keeps giving no matter what comes our way. In Christ we have peace that passes all understanding. Because of Christ, we have hope and can weather whatever comes.
So today, I want to take my heartfelt feelings of joy and thankfulness for the vaccine and transfer that even greater gratitude to God for His Great Gift, Jesus Christ!
Merry Christmas Y’all!
Will you take the vaccine when available? Comment below!
Giving Thanks in an Imperfect World
It is said the Amish purposefully include an “imperfection” in their exquisite quilts. The quilter may insert a “Humility block,” a square of colors which don’t match the rest of the quilt, or inconspicuously place one mismatched scrap of fabric in the design. The proposed reasoning is that trying to create a perfect piece “mocks God.”
My husband and I recently built a new house—yep, condolences are appropriate! We purchased three acres of land, poured over house plans on the internet for months, hired a builder, and drove twenty-five minutes to visit the site every day for eleven months before moving in on October eighth. And even with our constant attention and the very best intentions and enormous skills of our contractor and his crews, our new home is not perfect. Lovely, but not perfect. And we’re okay with that.
I believe, I can finally say I am conquering my strong perfectionist tendencies. Okay, I admit to occasional lapses, but I’m learning to live with imperfection. Even more, I am learning to thank God for my own imperfections and those of others.
Can we agree that 2020 is the most unusual and extremely imperfect year of our lifetime? Will life ever go back to what we knew as normal? At this point, Covid has likely affected each of us in various personal ways. Either we had the virus or had a loved one with the disease. You probably know someone who was hospitalized for weeks or even months and may have a friend or relative who died with Covid or preexisting conditions exacerbated by the virus.
In this season of Thanksgiving, we may wonder how we can fulfill the command, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV.
Two thoughts may help: 1) Embrace that we live in a fallen and imperfect world.
Research indicates the explanation for imperfections in quilts is likely folklore, specifically because all handmade objects intrinsically have their own imperfections—no need to create them on purpose. But aren’t carefully handmade items more valued despite any flaws they contain? A friend recently gave me a gorgeous, hand-stitched quilt with all my favorite colors. I’ve not searched for a mismatched scrap, but even if the stitches show any imperfections, I will still cherish this gift forever.
Folklore or not, we all recognize that there is no perfection on earth.
2) Remember that God is still in control. He alone redeems the imperfect for our good. “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
Recognizing God’s handiwork in imperfect situations compels us to give thanks.
A prayer by Charles Spurgeon: Let the morrow be what it may, our God is the God of tomorrow. Whatever events may have happened, which to us are unknown, our Jehovah is God of the unknown as well as of the known. We are determined to trust the Lord, come what may. If the very worst should happen, our God is still the greatest and best.
Even in the midst of a pandemic when our Thanksgiving celebrations are fewer in number than we’d like, even in a world where cranberries and Sister Schubert cinnamon rolls are sold out a week early (along with toilet paper and paper towels), even though our Thanksgiving prayers are muffled behind a mask, let us give thanks with grateful hearts. Amen.