Q. When we have had disappointment in life how do we understand that all things that happen are good? Some things don’t seem very good.
A. “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Notice, it doesn’t say that all things are good, but that all things work together for good. Our Father mixes the good with the bad, the bitter with the sweet, the fiery trials with the joyful experiences, and in the end it all works out for good and blessing. Like the baker who mixes just the right amount of ingredients, stirs and beats it just right, and bakes it the correct amount of time at the right temperature. The result is that the bitter as well as the sweet ingredients, exposed to the heat of the oven, turn out a delicious cake or pastry. If we are willing to submit, and realize that He loves us and desires our best, in the end we shall see that everything, whether it seemed good or bad was really for our blessing. We may not always understand this now, but when our life is reviewed in heaven we will praise Him for all His ways with us. Let’s learn to trust His goodness!
“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God” (1 Corinthians 4:5).
We often say, We can’t judge motives, and then turn around and do that very thing. We decide in our own minds why someone said or did this or that. The Apostle Paul was misunderstood, and misjudged by the Christians at Corinth. They questioned his authority as an apostle, they questioned his ministry, they even questioned his ability to present his ministry. However, Paul said, “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self” (1 Corinthians 4:3). He also said, “Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him” (2 Corinthians 5:9). He was living for the Lord and the Lord’s approval. He was willing to leave the misunderstandings and criticisms with the Lord, knowing that there was a time coming when “the counsels of the hearts” would be brought to light and the Lord’s stamp of approval given.
Have you ever been falsely accused? Have your motives been wrongly judged or your actions misconstrued? When Mary of Bethany poured out her ointment on the Lord, she was misunderstood and misjudged by those who observed. “And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made” (Mark 14:4)? It is interesting to notice in each of the gospels where you have this account, Mary never speaks up in her own defence. No, she leaves it to the Lord to vindicate and set the record straight. “And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on Me” (Mark 14:6).
The next time someone says something against you or your actions are wrongly judged, remember, the Lord knows your heart. Remember too, that no one was misunderstood as much as He was. “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:21-23). What an example!
During a discussion on the subject of prayer a young person expressed genuine surprise about receiving an answer to their prayer even before verbalizing it to God the Father. It reminds us of the verse that says, “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24).
I suppose most answers to prayer do come from spoken petitions, but there are many times when we cannot even put into words what we are trying to express. In that regard I find what we have in the book of Romans a great comfort. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26). The hymn writer, James Montgomery (1771- 1854), expressed it this way:
Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.
Some deep needs seem inexpressible. But if the heart’s sincere desire rises silently in prayer God hears and answers.
Today I am in Saint Kitts, which is part of what is known as the Eastern Caribbean. This morning, with two of my fellow-workers in Christ, one from the USA, and one from the island of Saint Vincent, we visited a government school. It had been prearranged for us to have some time to speak to the students as they were gathered in the courtyard during their morning assembly. It is amazing to be in countries where they still welcome and encourage missionaries to come and present the gospel to the boys and girls and young people. This morning as the students filed back to their classrooms they played the well known hymn, “Jesus Loves Me” over the loudspeaker. Coming from North America where, in most areas, it is forbidden to even mention God or Christ in the schools, two of us shook our heads in wonder, and I thought of the Scripture that says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12). How thankful we are that there are still corners of the world where God and His Son are at least outwardly owned and reverenced.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2).
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
These sublime words take us back into a timeless, dateless past. It establishes the eternity of the person of Christ. It confirms the equality, and deity of the Son of God. The Word becoming flesh is an astonishing and amazing mystery and Paul was caught up in the wonder of it when he wrote, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Timothy 3:16). There is nothing that will consecrate the believer to yield to this blessed person like the realization of the majesty, glory, and power of Him whom they have trusted.
There were three of us and we were visiting in a school on the Caribbean Island of Saint Lucia. As we chatted in the principal’s office, I noticed a motto on the wall. It had an unsharpened pencil with these words underneath:
“Life without Jesus
is like a pencil without a point!”
So many people are looking for the answers to life, and trying to fill the empty aching of their heart with things of this world, be it fun and amusement, material goods, education, charitable causes, and so on. But only the One who made us can satisfy us and give purpose and direction to our life. “For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107:9).
Centuries ago Isaiah raised a question that is still good and relevant for us all to think about: “Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not?” (Isaiah 55:22)
Yes, life is pointless without Christ as our life, and first and foremost we must be the possessors of eternal life, and then there will be substance to our day-to-day life. “He that hath the Son hath life” (1 John 5:12).
What are we keeping in corners of our hearts for ourselves? Whatever it may be, it is hindering our joy, hindering our communion with God our Father and with the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is definitely hindering our spiritual growth, and our testimony for Himself. Let’s judge it, and give Him the full and first place He desires. He alone can fill and satisfy the human heart! He has entreated us: My son, give Me thine heart” (Proverbs 23:26).
Here are the words of a hymn that perhaps sum it up very well:
Lord, we are Thine: Thy claims we own,
Ourselves to Thee we’d wholly give;
Reign Thou within our hearts alone,
And let us to Thy glory live.
May it be so in each of our lives, until the Lord Jesus calls us home to Himself in the Father’s house, where our hearts will be centered fully, and undistractedly on Him for eternity. Here is a good daily prayer for all of us, “Give me understanding, and I shall keep Thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart” (Psalm 119:34).
God wants wholeheartedness, not halfhearted Christians. Are we following the Lord but still keeping a place in our hearts for something we cherish above Himself…the world…wealth…etc? Don’t be like Peter who followed the Lord but, “followed afar off” (Luke 22:54).
He wants our whole heart’s affection: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart” (Matthew 22:37).
He wants our hearts filled with praise: “I will praise the Lord with my whole heart” (Psalm 111:1).
He wants us to seek Him with whole-heartedness: “With my whole heart have I sought Thee” (Psalm 119:10).
He wants us to read and keep His Word in the same way: “I will keep Thy precepts with my whole heart” (Psalm 119:69).
He wants us to be wholehearted in prayer: “I cried unto thee with my whole heart” (Psalm 119:145).
In this same way we are to have full confidence in Him: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart” (Proverbs 3:5).
36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.
37 And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.
38 And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.
39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.
40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.
42 And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.