And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.- Romans 8:28 NASB
Suffering is a very important topic to the disability community. When parents get a new diagnosis, when a complication occurs, when a surgery is scheduled, when normal activities must be canceled, many people begin to grapple with the concept of suffering, and God’s purposes for it.
It’s easy to lean to extremes. One may see suffering as a sign of an uncaring or un-involved God. “Why would a loving God allow this?”
Others may feel they are being punitively punished for some past sin. “If Only I hadn’t… God must be angry with me.”
Yet others may err on the side of glorifying every suffering person as some kind of saint, predestined to live a greater spiritual life than the rest of us could imagine attaining. “Wow! It takes a special kind of person to go through the things she does and stay strong. I could never do that!”
The whole truth, as usual, is not found in any of the extremes.
Romans 8:28 has always been one of my favorite verses. While it speaks of “good”, it tells us just as much about “suffering”. And while much is learned by what it says, much is learned by what it does not say.
All Suffering Is Designed For Blessing
To me, the reason that Romans 8:28 is so applicable in my life, is that it reminds me all things work together for good for the believer.
First, what are “all things”? “All things” includes the “good”, and the “bad”. The good can be fairly obvious.
If you get a promotion at work, and your salary increases, it’s easy to say, “Oh, I can see how x y z contributed to my promotion, and it all worked out for good.”
How about the moment you first crossed paths with your husband? Or the way you discovered your profoundly disabled child had a hidden talent for art? Or the afternoon you saw your child, who uses a wheelchair, play in their first adaptive sports game?
These are all good things. Obviously good things. And unless these good things somehow take your focus off God, or cause a negative change in your attitude, they are exactly what they seem to be. Blessings. And they are a reminder to praise the One who provides for you.
And of course He provides for you not just in special moments, but every moment, with a “good thing”- the power of the Holy Spirit- which is accessible at any time, to any believer who is living in fellowship with God.
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.- Ephesians 3:20-21
But what about the suffering? What about the “bad”? Special needs families often see a lot of bad, and it can be hard to understand how the bad can be part of the all things that are good.
The “how” is something we’ll be thinking about next week. But the first step is to recognize the promise. The promise is that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
And yes, that includes suffering.
Everything that happens to the believer is not going to be “good”, but we can be assured that everything that happens to the believer is intended to work together for good. Even suffering is ultimately intended for blessing in the plan of God.