I n his letter to the Romans Paul wrote, “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” Sometimes we find that hard to believe. Of course, in some situations it is easy to see God at work, but in others it is virtually impossible.
Things looked very black the day Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. But God was at work in the affair. He told them later as he made himself known to them, “Do not be distressed or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here. Pharaoh has made me ruler over Egypt to preserve life during this two years of famine. So it was not you who sent me here, but God.”
It was a dark day for Moses when trying to defend a fellow Israelite he killed an Egyptian and was forced to f lee as a fugitive from justice. But God was there in it all with plans for Moses’ life. He returned at God’s calling to deliver his people from bondage and lead them to the Promised Land.
On his second missionary Journey, you recall, Paul was prevented from going south into Asia. (Because of the malady he had contracted there on his first journey?). He turned northward and again his plans were blocked. No way to go but westward and he came at long last to the seaport of Troas—the end of the line, or so it seemed. But God was there. In the night Paul heard the call to come over to Macedonia. The next day they took a ship and in doing so the Christian faith was carried from Asia, the land of its birth, over into Europe, the land of its destiny, and from there to Rome and to England and eventually to America and all the world.
It seemed to Phillips Brooks that his world had come to an end the day he was fired from his position as a public school teacher. But God had another plan for him and was at work in the situation. Phillips Brooks went on from there to become one of the greatest preachers and pastors America has produced.
All of his cherished dreams were shattered when the doors closed for Adoniram Judson to be a missionary to India. But, again, God was there working for good. Instead of going to India, Judson was sent to Burma. So outstanding was his work there that, as Harry Emerson Fosdick has pointed out, “Today to think of Judson is to think of Burma, and to think of Burma is to think of Judson.”
It has been so in my own life over and over, and I am sure it has been in yours. Over and over have we not seen “the worst turn to the best” if only we held on in faith and trust?
Little wonder that if we were able to ask, “Everything? Paul, are you sure?” he would say, “Yes, I am absolutely certain. His promise is as good as gold! ‘In everything God works for good with those who love him’.” Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, where he was senior minister for 23 years. He writes a religious column for several newspapers.