Is There Good In All Things?

Saint Paul says in Romans 8:28: “And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose are called to be saints.”

Afflictions come in many forms: natural disasters, physical ailments, financial struggles and horrendous suffering imposed by the actions of others. The list is endless. It is hard to think of any of it as being good for us
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Acts 3: 1-10: Peter heals the crippled man lying outside the gate of the temple. Crippled since birth, the man suffered from his infirmity all of his life. Because of the length of his suffering, was his cure more miraculous? Does this mean his suffering was tied directly into God’s glory? That’s an uncomfortable thought. Yet, we know great good can spring from great suffering. Our most celebrated stories involve horrific struggles and sacrifices. 

If my faith is stronger because of suffering, will more afflictions be the spiritual equivalent of lifting weights? Hosea 6:1-2: “In their affliction they will rise early to me: Come, and let us return to the Lord. For he has taken us and he will heal us; he will strike and he will cure us.”

Our earthly mindset rebels at the idea that some suffering is good for us ― and for our loved ones. We avoid discomfort in any way possible and want to eradicate pain from the lives of others as well. We are to have compassion for others and to alleviate pain where and however we can, and yet are we still to see good in it?

What if the suffering is the direct result of someone else’s actions? Is that good for us as well? It’s a hard premise to swallow. And taken a bit further, it’s even harder to see good in the people that make us uncomfortable, let alone those that cause great suffering.

My Living Faith devotional had this: Hate Cripples. And, it does. The one who hates, suffers far more than the one causing the suffering.

Good Morning, Lord, by Joseph T. Sullivan: “I pray that I may see goodness in all people I meet, that I may be aware of your great care for them.” This reflects directly on Jesus’ commandment to love our enemies.

Breakfast with God, published by Honor Books, adds another thought: preparation for future tasks. The meditation speaks of Moses, Daniel, David, and Esther. Of course, these are only a few in a legion of saints who answered yes to God’s call and suffered horrifically for a future good. My personal role model is Joseph. He endured a great amount of suffering in preparation for his greatest role – the salvation of a nation.

The Bible repeatedly states that God is more concerned with our souls than our bodies, another scary thought. And yet, Jesus told the Apostles in John 6:20: “It is I. Do not be afraid.”

After some further meditation, I believe what St. Paul meant was that God can take bad things and turn them to something good for those with enough faith to trust Him. 

I may never fully understand this paradox. I must trust that God knows what is best for me and must accept whatever form that takes.  I believe prayer is the ultimate answer. We know it will heal. We know it will change circumstances. We know it will change hearts, and through faith we will eventually see good in all things, even those we dislike the most.

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