The Bible says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them“. This verse is a reminder that as we love and serve God, bad things can happen to us, but we see that God is bigger than the “bad” and He can bring good through it.
As I reflect back over my life I have had a lot of bad things happen that made me wonder how God could let this happen. Things like being diagnosed with and living with crippling Rheumatoid Arthritis since the age of 12, when a routine x-ray found a large growth in my wife’s pelvis, losing loved ones and a host of other painful situations. Each of these things in themselves were very difficult times and to be honest I wondered if I could get through some of them.
Looking back though, I can trace God’s fingerprints through them. After some time and some space from the situations, I now know that God really can bring good results from bad situations. Each of these have helped me in some way. I have grown as a person, I have an understanding of peoples suffering and a desire to comfort them, and my wife an I are very close due to her illness. These times have also taught me to rely on God when I don’t understand why things are happening.
I think the key is to trust God and run towards Him in times of trouble. Trust that He is a God of His Word and know that He will work everything out for good in time. He has always been there for me. I am sure He will always be there for you too.
One of the traps we can fall into sometimes is thinking that the God in the Old Testament (From creation to just before Jesus) was a harsh and judgmental God and the God of the New Testament (From Jesus and the early church period) was a loving and gracious God. The reality is it is both the same God and they are both loving and gracious.
Recently I was looking at the Covenant relationships God made with the people of the Old Testament. In particular I looked at the Covenants that God made with Abraham and Moses. It was interesting to study these and follow them over time. One thing that really stood out was that these Covenants were God’s idea and that no matter what the people did to break them and walk away from Him, He was always ready to bring them back to Himself. Yes at times He brought judgment, but this happened after sending prophets and great leaders to warn and correct the people over a long period of time. God’s correction was always out of His great love for His chosen people.
Looking at these Covenants reminded me of the great love God has for us and how He relates to us. First and foremost He is loving and caring towards us and wants what is best for us. Then secondly, when we stumble and do the wrong things or completely turn away from Him, He is always looking at ways He can restore our relationship. He never wants to let us go. As Jeremiah 30:22 tells us that He just wants to be our God and He wants us to be His people.
One of the things I have been reflecting on lately is how that as humans we are made in the image of God. Genesis 1:26 tells us that as male and female we are made in our (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) image and likeness.
There are several schools of thought as to what this means. One is that we look somewhat like God and possess attributes of God. Another is that the way we relate to God and each other is “like” God in the Trinity relationship. Lastly some believe that is a functional meaning, that is the way we work and have the ability to create. In truth it is probably all three together that somewhat capture the meaning of being made in God’s image.
As I have dwelt upon this another question has arisen. Why did God create us in His image? He didn’t need to do this as He could have made us any other way. As with most of my theological reflections I returned to the person of Jesus. When we look at the life of Jesus we see three things.
He related perfectly to the Father in heaven – Many times He drew aside to spend time alone in prayer to the Father.
He perfectly fulfilled the Father’s will – None more so than is the Garden when He said, “Not My will, but Yours be done”.
He loved humanity perfectly – Wherever He went He loved, encouraged and served people. He even went to the point of death to show His love.
So why were we made in the image of God? My belief is that we were made that way so we could relate to the Father in the same way Jesus did while He was on earth, so we could do His will and so we could love and serve those people around us. God made us in His image and then Jesus came and modelled three things not only to show us what God is like, but so we could also follow His example.