Romans 8: 28 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.
Simone Biles’ early years were anything but ideal training ground for a world champion gymnast. As her mother struggled with substance abuse and went to rehab, Biles, age three, and her three siblings were removed from the home and sent to foster care. In her book Courage to Soar, Biles writes: “We never did go back to live with Shanon (Biles’ biological mother), because she kept failing her drug tests. The social worker told her that if she could just pass a few tests in a row, they’d let us move back in with her. But she couldn’t seem to stay sober.“ For the next years, Simone was in the foster care system until her grandparents (Ron and Nellie Biles) adopted her at age 6, along with her younger sister. “Since then, Nellie has encouraged Simone to put her life and career in God’s hands. ‘I am a very prayerful person, so I encourage my children to do the same thing too, to pray. And I know it doesn’t matter what situation you are ever in you just put it in the hands of the Lord and he’s going to walk you through it.’’”[i]
And overcome she did. Biles has won a combined total of nineteen Olympic and World Championship medals. She is the most decorated American gymnast of all time, and some of her peers consider her the greatest gymnast ever[ii]. There is no doubt that God’s hand has been on the life of Simone, and he turned significant adversity, significant brokenness, into significant good. “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.” (Romans 8:28)
But is there always a fairy tale ending? Do we always see the good fruit that comes from adversity or even tragedy? “Over 900,000 Christians have been martyred in the last 10 years, a Christian research firm affiliated with Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts estimates.”[iii] How on earth can we describe that as good? Young children slaughtered by Islamist militants while attending Sunday School in Egypt, or Christian families killed in tribal conflicts in Africa. Where is the good? I heard a speaker recently say that Romans 8:28 refers to eternal good, not temporal. We may never see the good in our lifetime. Jesus’ inspirational speech to encourage John to follow him went like this: “’Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’ Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, ‘Follow me!’” (John 21: 18-19). Where is the good in such an end? How could someone possibly glorify God is such despondent circumstances? The short answer is that we do not know, but we need to have faith that God does.
God has a way of using difficult times, or even sinful actions, to accomplish his purposes. When Joseph met his brothers many years after they sold him into slavery he said: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20). If you are going through difficult times caused by your own foolishness or sin, confess quickly and allow God to intervene. If you are being challenged through no fault of your own, memorize the scriptures listed here and declare them into the heavenlies. Declare that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him”. Continue to love him and offer yourself up to his purposes here on earth.