ROMANS 8:28 (NIV) …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.

It has taken me many years to finally get a grasp on this verse, even though I claimed it as my “life” verse.

It was quoted to me by a pastor’s wife as I knelt at the altar on the day I made my profession of faith public. Notice, I didn’t say the day I “got saved.” (That’s a story for another time.)

For some reason I clung onto that scripture like it was a life preserver that had been tossed to a drowning victim. The Holy Spirit must have whispered to that dear sweet lady, just how much I would need that promise throughout my lifetime. As I look back on my life, the life preserver became “swimmies”. You know, those little thing-a-ma-jigs kids wear on their arms as they are learning to swim.

At that time, I thought the verse meant everything that happened or was going to happen in my life would be good. I thought I would be protected from trials, hurts, disappointments…~sigh~…sort of like the child wearing the swimmies thinking they are really swimming…until the flotation device is removed.

As I matured spiritually, physically and emotionally, I began to take the swimmies off. I began to “test the waters” of life. I discovered that the verse was not a life preserver, but a recipe. A recipe??? Yep, a recipe.

Think about your favorite cake. Let’s say a chocolate cake. Ever tasted the ingredients separately? (I’m not talking about a Betty Crocker Mix.) Think about it…ever tasted baking powder by itself? How about plain flour, raw eggs, or Dutch processed cocoa powder? Not very appealing, huh? But when you put the ingredients of the cake recipe together…something amazing happens. It’s transformed into something good. (Give me a big tall glass of cold milk…mmmmm…mmmmm. I do love chocolate cake.)

Well, that’s what I discovered about the verse. No, not everything that has happened, or happens in my life is good when “tasting” the individual ingredients. The incidents of life. But when I look at the outcome….something amazing happens. I can see the good. Not always right away. (Sort of like waiting for bread dough to rise.) But as time goes by I can see the good.

Take for instance when my daddy got sick with cancer. I had only been a Christian for about two years. How could that happen to my daddy? As his illness progressed, and he became weaker and weaker, I had to help mom take care of him. I helped him to the bathroom. Helped bathe him, feed him, and change his soiled clothes. Can you imagine how embarrassing it must have been for him to have his twenty year old daughter doing this for him? How embarrassing it was for me? The cancer claimed another victim after three years. I sat alone with him in his hospital room all night of his last night. He no longer could speak. We still had our last conversation though. Motioning with his hand, tears rolling down his cheeks, his eyes begged for me to disconnect all the apparatuses attached to him. I replied to him, “Daddy, you know I can’t do that. But it’s okay for you to let go. We’ll be okay. I love you.” He went home to the Lord the next morning. That was one of the hardest and longest nights of my life.  Yes, it was a very difficult time in my life. Where was the good?

But when I look back at it, I can see how God was turning it into something good. He was using it to teach me strength and compassion for dealing with sickness and death. Three years after dad died, I began working at a nursing home. I was assigned to what we called the “last hall.” Most of the patients on my hall were not long for this world. Out of the 19, only 3 were ambulatory. I had to bathe, feed, change soiled clothing, give physical therapy and offer compassionate care, not only to the patients, but to their families. Years later, I had to help care for my mother-in-law the same way. And now, my mom who is in her 80’s. I would not have known how to offer the care, had it not been for my experience with daddy. So no, they were not “good” incidences, but good came out of them.

Another example was with my previous employer. A co-worker told lies about me to my supervisor and the atmosphere had become so stressful and intolerable that it began affecting my health. So much so that my husband practically ordered me to just quit. I told him I couldn’t just quit without another one to go to. Again he “strongly” encouraged me to quit. So, after much trepidation, I stepped out on faith and gave a two weeks’ notice without having an inkling of where my next employment would be. Not a very happy situation. Where was the good? Well, a week after I gave my notice, I saw a job listed on Craig’s list and applied for it, a total different career change from the health field I had worked in for most of my life. On my last day at the hospital, I announced to my co-workers that I had just been offered a job the previous day. It was with a church seven minutes from my house. I wouldn’t have to make the thirty minute drive to work anymore. Woohoo!

Here’s the kicker….the church said they had not advertised the position on Craig’s List!! They had no idea how the ad got listed there. I’ve been with them nearly 8 years now. But where was the “good” from the situation at the previous employer you ask? Well, had the bad incident not happened, I would not have searched Craig’s List and found the new position. God was working things together.

I was hired during a time of great turmoil in the church. Shortly after I started there, the associate pastor resigned and was replaced, then a year later the senior pastor resigned. Then they went through five interim pastors & associates. During this time of turmoil, it was my office that staff (including some of the interim pastors) and members came to for a listening ear and prayers. (Many still do.) I have had the opportunity to pray with strangers who have stopped by the church just wanting to kneel at the altar, and that has led to opportunities to share with them how God has worked in my life, my testimony. The church has had to cut several staff hours and positions over the past several years, yet mine has remained unchanged. God is working things together for good.

The church may have hired me, but I believe I was sent there by God for a purpose.

THAT my friend is how I” know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. These things were character building experiences that helped me find my voice through give and take situations.

I encourage you to reflect back on the troubled waters of your life. I bet if you take the “swimmies” off, and try the recipe, you just might see the good where you may not have seen it before.

Oh, gracious Heavenly Father, thank you for giving Romans 8:28 as my life verse. Thank you that I can look back at the times in my life when I couldn’t see any good in them as I was walking through them, but now Lord I can see all the good. I thank you Lord that as the waters are stirred even now, one day I will taste all your goodness. In Christ name. Amen

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2 thoughts on “Character Building Experiences

  1. It is interesting how similar your stories are to my experiences. My father was a Christian man who suffered physically the last few years of his life. Toward the end I asked him if he was looking forward to heaven, to leave the pain and frustration behind. I was surprised at his answer. He was clinging to this world because he loved his family. I think he finally let go and joined his Father in heaven a couple of years ago. James says, “Consider it all joy my brethren when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” I’ve certainly found this to be true in my life and in many other Christians I’ve observed over the years. Learning to trust and cling to God in the midst of it all, knowing that He is in control of the outcome and that He has our best interests at heart. The pain is all too real when we go through these things, but the Hebrew writer says, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”

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    1. Thank you for the acknowledgement and other scriptures. God is good all the time and all the time Good is good. Sometimes we just don’t see it until afterwards.

      Sorry for the loss of father.

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