Good In All Things
By Dot Bowen
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 (ESV)
As you may know, I have a sister who has battled Lymphoma for over 10 years. Oftentimes when we are together and see someone who becomes frustrated over losing her parking space, we say, “Everyone needs to face the fear of cancer, if only for one day.” It’s interesting how tragedy has a way of putting things into perspective.
After my dad died of cancer, my mom changed from a very positive person to being very bitter. My mother never complained about anything until her unresolved grief became so overwhelming she lost all hope of ever finding happiness again. Nothing could make her happy. One night she told me a story about a dream she had in which she saw my dad. In her dream, it was as if she could reach out and touch my dad again, and he said to her, “Ruby, I’m happy.” Mom knew the dream was God’s way of letting her know my dad was in heaven, healed of cancer, and doing just fine. From that moment forward, my mother returned to being the positive, happy person she had once been. I often wondered what made my mom change so drastically. Nothing had really changed: Dad was still gone. I have come to believe what changed was her perspective. Instead of seeing dad’s death as her loss, she viewed his death as God’s mercy to release him from his suffering even though it was still painful for her. My dad was confined to a bed and would’ve never wanted to live simply lying in a bed. Near the end of his life, he couldn’t talk and wasn’t aware of what was going on around him. Even at the end, God was merciful because I had to change his diapers, but my dad wasn’t coherent enough to realize it. I was just thankful I could do something to make his last days comfortable.
If we really want to celebrate Thanksgiving with a genuinely thankful heart, we must change our perspective about what seems impossible to be grateful for. I am not saying we must deny our disappointments and heartaches and pretend we are thankful for all things. But I know from personal experience God can open our eyes to see good come out of the worst possible situations. If we are willing to change our perspective and stop focusing on the bad, we will be able to find good in the midst of what evil tried to destroy. If we refuse to search for good in the midst of bad, we’ll be controlled by our own bitterness. God never said all things are good, but He does say all things can work for our good. God never said we won’t have tribulations in this world, but He does say in Him we can overcome the tribulation. God never said we won’t face death, but He does say He can give us life. God never said this world was heaven, but He does say He will make all things new and will personally wipe every tear away. Until then, our only hope of rising above our circumstances is to change our perspective. We must look for all the good which surfaces from painful circumstances in our lives.
- It’s never too late to begin the search for good in the midst of difficult situations. Try this idea to see if it helps.
- Write a description of your most painful situation at the top a piece of paper.
- Draw a line down the center of the page.
- In the left column, list all the bad that came from this situation. Be honest and let your thoughts and feelings flow.
- In the right column, list some of the good that has come from this tragedy.
- As you begin to focus on the good, thank God for the good that would never have occurred if this bad thing not happened.
Victor E. Frankl was a Holocaust survivor. After suffering the darkest days in the Auschwitz concentration camp, he wrote, “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.” If a man who faced such evil in a Nazi concentration camp survived because of the way he chose to respond to despair, we can choose to trust God to give us His power to see the good in the midst of circumstance where the bad appears to be greater. God tells us all things work together for good for those who trust in Him. He told us there is good in all things. Before you prepare Thanksgiving dinner, make your list! You’ll be thankful you did!
Further Reading John 16:33; Revelation 21:1; Revelation 21:4