— Midweek Meditations:
thoughts, inspiration and encouragement
from ACF community members —
I have spent this past summer recovering from major surgery. I am thankful for the surgery and the new quality of life it brings but I have been struggling with the many limitations that come with the 12 weeks of recovery time and some that will continue for the rest of my life. In the past 20 years I have had about 30 surgeries and other procedures. Next month I have two additional surgeries. To be honest my soul and body do not always agree with each other. My soul is often angry on the limitations my body provides.
There is a verse I have literally turned to hundreds if not thousands times in my Christian journey. This verse is
Often I have wanted to cut this verse out of my Bible when life is not going the way I hoped for. I read this verse and can not imagine why God thinks he can change bad into good.
Paul is called the first Christian theologian and he packed into the book of Romans a guide to our Christian life. Paul lived a life with many ups and many downs. He was on the road constantly, suffered health issues, was confronted for his “radical” teachings by Jewish leaders, was put into jail and died a martyr. Romans chapter 8 comes after Paul introduces the powerful message of justification by faith in the first chapters of Romans. Before Christ, the way to be forgiven was earned through an individual’s good deeds. Paul explains that after Christ’s death on the cross, forgiveness is free to all who ask Christ for it. In Romans 8:1 we read “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. We are no longer guilty to be punished for. Because of Christ’s sacrifice we now have hope. We need this hope to understand what Paul is saying in Roman’s 8:28.
No where in the Bible do we read that as a Christian our lives will be protected from suffering. As most Christians I have often joined the Psalmist in pleading -“Why God?”, “where are you God”? “is this really necessary?”, when I feel I have been dealt a bad hand in a game of cards. As a child I often heard the phrase, “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. This is how some people interpret “all things work together for the good” Paul does not say that we have to call bad events in our lives “a blessing in disguise”. These bad events are not there to teach you something, make you a better person, make you more flexible, punish you or have a divine purpose. Yes, it is possible that these things are a result of the event but that is not why they are there. They are simply there because like for everyone else, “sX!=y! happens”. We do not live in paradise. It is not necessary to find blame or reason for the bad things in our lives. For me this simple truth has been liberating, no longer are my thoughts occupied with why did this happen or who is responsible.
Romans 8:28 must be read through the eyes of hope that Paul talks about in the beginning of Romans 8. Hope allows me to acknowledge that yes bad things have happened but with the eyes of hope I see into the future and the ultimate goal I have in Christ. Often hope is placed falsely in better health, better income, better job, better friends, better house and so on. For years I had false hopes until I learned to say “my hope is in Christ, in Christ alone”. With this hope comes trust that God sees our entire lives and knows how everything that happens to us flows together to make us Christ like. It is as if God has the entire movie of our lives and we only have screen shots. God knows there is a happy ending to the end of your and mine blockbuster movie.
The ACF Midweek Meditations
are written by a diverse group of our church members with the intention to seek God’s fingerprints in our lives. They range from somber to humorous and are inspired by all facets of live and faith. Written by ordinary people from all walks of life, they reflect a wide range of Christian backgrounds and spiritualities.
Each week’s text portrays the individual viewpoint of its author. They might not always resonate with everyone, and are not meant to be understood as representing the Anglican Church Freiburg as a whole. Yet, as a church that is aiming to ‘Build a Community of Grace’ we seek to practice learning from and listening to one another.
We pray that these humble ponderings add a small spark of blessing to your week.