How are we supposed to respond?
When we see and experience these things we and other Christians point to and affirm Romans 8:28.
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.
But does this scripture say that followers of Christ should simply put on a plastic smile and somehow grin and bear it because God is going to somehow make something good come from it?
I don't think so!
As I said my family is going through one of those excruciatingly tough times and today, I read something written by Francis Schaeffer from his book True Spirituality that helped me to get a proper grasp of Romans 8:28.
Schaeffer points out that the Bible's view of life in the world is clear-eyed and realistic. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, everything became abnormal. The entire world was no longer what God made it to be. Therefore, Scripture verses like Romans 8:28 cannot be calling us to think
"…that in some magical way everything is really fine when it isn't. Rather, we are to say "thank You Lord" knowing that God will somehow bring good ultimately, though we may not know how all the pieces fit together.
"It is not that Christians are to give thanks with a plastic smile, saying things are wonderful when they are hard. It is knowing that the hard things are really hard things, a result of the abnormality of the Fall, yet not revolting against God when the hard things come."
"We do honor to God and the finished work of Christ as we throw the words ‘all things' in Romans 8:28 like a circle around all things..."
"…we are contented before God… yet not complacent about the suffering of the world."
Schaeffer is saying, and I agree, that Christ neither calls us to be indifferent nor to put on a plastic smile. Instead, we are to face the facts of hard reality and then sink our roots more deeply in who He is. We are God's children through Jesus' sacrifice so we can have a relationship of trusting Him because He is a faithful, sovereign, covenant keeping God who is incapable of failure.
Romans 8:14-16 NIV For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Philippians 4:19 NIV And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 13:8 NIV Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
He makes and keeps great promises not only for His glory but for the ultimate good of those who are His.
Isaiah 41:10 NIV So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.