Between financial struggles, marital issues, health scares, and the run-of-the-mill problems of everyday life, it’s easy to feel weighed down and trapped by your circumstances. In times like these, it’s tempting to just throw in the towel and quit. With all the bad things that are happening, and will happen, how can Paul say and encourage his readers and eventually us to say what he did in Romans 8:28.
Romans 8:28 (HCSB) We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.
These words from Paul are not from a person who has had it good all his life but from a guy who "under great pressure" and "despaired even of life" (2 Cor. 1:8); he was "hard pressed on every side" and "perplexed," "persecuted" and "struck down" (2 Cor. 4:8-9); he experienced "beatings," "imprisonments," "riots" and "hunger" (2 Cor. 6:4-5).
2 Corinthians 1:8 HCSB For we don’t want you to be unaware, brothers, of our affliction that took place in Asia: we were completely overwhelmed — beyond our strength — so that we even despaired of life.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 HCSB We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 6:4-5 HCSB But as God’s ministers, we commend ourselves in everything: by great endurance, by afflictions, by hardship, by difficulties, by beatings, by imprisonments, by riots, by labors, by sleepless nights, by times of hunger,
For Christians to be free from the realities of sin and death does not mean that we can live our lives unaffected by the continuing presence of sin and death in this world. So what’s the good? Doesn’t make sense does it? Exactly what does it mean that “all things work together for the good of those who love God?” Here’s what it means. It is the destiny of those who love the Lord to be like Jesus. God is committed to produce in us all the love, all the joy, all the patience, all the long-suffering, all the goodness, and all the gentleness of Jesus.
But until that happens we are still subject to the realities of sin and death. It is God's love in Christ that sustains us and empowers us—even in the midst of our experiences of sin and death—"to be conformed to the likeness of his Son" . God works in all things toward that good purpose. But only "those who love him" know that, because they are participants "with him" in the outworking of that purpose.
Romans 8:29-30 HCSB For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.
When you feel most overwhelmed remember that God is:
• SOVEREIGN — He reigns over everyone and everything and has never been stressed out.
• UNSTOPPABLE and so are those who follow Him.
• HOLY— God is perfect, which means everything He wants/desires for my life is far greater than anything I could have thought of.
• CONSISTENT — I don’t have to worry about Him being in a bad mood.
• GREATER than any temptation the enemy throws my way.
• BETTER than anything the world has to offer.
• BIGGER than any sin or failure in my life.
• GRACIOUS — He knows every stupid, foolish, sinful thing I’ve ever done (or will do), and yet He loves me anyway!
• ALWAYS here with me — God has NEVER walked away from me. He doesn’t always deliver me from the fire, but He has ALWAYS walked with me through it!
• FAITHFUL — If I fail to see His faithfulness in my past, I will probably not recognize the fruitfulness of my future.
• THE ONE WHO PURSUES ME — He pursues me even on the days I tend to walk away from Him.
• RELENTLESS — He has NEVER given up on me!
• PASSIONATE — His passion and zeal that the scriptures reveal cause me to be in AWE. I could go on and on, but what I want you to see is that when stress comes into our lives it is an awesome opportunity to KNOW GOD.
By Rick Warren
“Put your trust in the Lord your God, and you will stand your ground. Believe what his prophets tell you, and you will succeed” (2 Chronicles 20:20 GNT).
When you focus on your problems instead of trusting God, you’re going to end up exhausted. And you’re going to be defeated because God didn’t design you to fight your battles alone. You don’t have the power you need to face every problem in your own strength. You need God’s power.
You can’t focus on your problems and focus on God at the same time. You’ve got to shift your focus to who God is and what he’s promised to do for you.
Life is full of experiences that test you, drain you, and wipe you out. When you are worn out, that’s when you’re ready to say to God, “I’m sorry. I can’t handle this situation, and I’ve tried everything. I need to give it to you because it’s bigger than me.”
So, what should you do when you are overwhelmed? You stand strong.
Standing strong is an attitude of quiet confidence in the character of God. You will be successful when you put your trust in what he says to you through his Word and the Holy Spirit. When you get with God, you’ll never have to give up ground because you are standing strong.
When the burden is overwhelming, you may be tempted to cave in under the pressure. God doesn’t want you to back down from difficult situations. He doesn’t want you to sacrifice your integrity. God wants you to trust him through the challenges and learn from them. If you run, you’ll miss out on learning from God. And chances are, you’ll need to repeat that lesson.
God is committed to your success. But you need to focus on him and trust him and his Word if you want to stand your ground.
“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all”(Proverbs 3:5-7 The Message)