There’s a big difference between “all things work together for good for those who love God” and “in everything God works for good with those who love him” (rsv). The Greek text can mean either. Is everything willed by an all-controlling God? Or does God weave meaning, purpose, and blessing even out of mistakes and random accidents?
Whatever the answer, we can claim this promise: God’s Spirit hovers within every event, working “for us,” to shape Christ in us amid any circumstance. Claiming God as a companion on the journey can make the difference between feeling trapped by circumstances and being challenged by them. Trapped, our imagination easily closes down and our inventiveness can be stunted. Faced with a challenge, however, a cleverness may awaken that shows us new ways to cope.
On a deeper level, difficulty can strengthen and open us to the God who reaches out to “justify” us and embraces us in a love that claims us as we are—warts, wonders, and all. This same divine love then wants to sanctify us, to link every thought and deed to the flow of the Spirit. The result of both of these activities will be to “glorify” us, to make us “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4, rsv), fully able to breathe the atmosphere of heaven.
Our personal ups and downs, likes and dislikes, loves and hates, careers and pastimes are part of a much bigger story. God wants to make us partners in God’s own purposes for the world. Our first taste of salvation is the beginning of a lifelong training in service. The story is not about us; we are about the larger story of God’s love for all of creation, which “groans” in a birthing of which each of us has a part.
Create in me, O God, the desire and determination to become your partner. Amen.
Jacob has tricked his brother out of his birthright and has tricked his blind father into blessing him instead of his older brother. This week the trickster is tricked, and his desire to marry Rachel will cost him dearly. The psalmist reflects on the faithfulness of God. God has made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the author is confident that God will honor that covenant. Paul builds upon his argument to the Romans about the power of the Spirit. The Spirit helps us pray to connect with God, and nothing can separate us from the love of God. Jesus continues to teach about the kingdom of God using parables. Finding our way into the kingdom is worth far more than anything else.
Read Genesis 29:15-28. How does a wise faith help you discern between differing loves?
Read Psalm 105:1-11, 45b. How is your faith journey an extension of God’s covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
Read Romans 8:26-39. How have you experienced prayer as an opening of yourself to God’s Spirit rather than a petition for yourself or others?
Read Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52. How are you growing in Christ? If your faith has become stagnant, what “sorting” might help you to continue to grow toward proficiency in being Christlike?
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