Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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by George C. Clark and John D. Clark, Sr.
“We know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are the called according to His purpose.”
From this wonderful text, we see that God has ordained “all things”, both good and bad, to work together for our good – that is, if we love Him. If God in His providence orders that our path lead through valleys of difficulty or over mountains of hindrance, we should not be discouraged. I like to think of the providence of God as a sieve through which man’s rage must pass before it can strike us children of God. After God has sifted out the cruel and useless bits of man’s evil designs, that which He permits to pass on to us can only contribute to the honor and glory of God (Ps. 76:10). And this tried part joins hands with the “all things” that work together for our good. From this standpoint and with this attitude, difficulties are seen to be for our greatest good and prove to be our best ground for courage and confidence.
Child of God, you need not despair nor complain about the hardness of your way. It is your privilege to possess in clear, strong confidence the assurance that God is working every experience of your life together for your good. Of course, many things are good for us that are not pleasant; still, not one circumstance is permitted into your life that is not a needful part of God’s plan for presenting you “without spot in the presence of His glory with great joy.” Yes, beloved, “all things” are working together that you “might know [Christ], and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings – changed by his death to be with him” (Phil. 3:10). Only a faithful child of God may attain these blessings.
It is our privilege to be absolutely sure that God is working everything together for our good. What peace this brings! What comfort it gives! What blessed assurance in the midst of the storms of life! Reader, have you found this sweet rest? If you haven’t, let the Word of God speak to you right now, in the midst of your trials, and give you the knowledge of this truth, so that you may be able to say, “We know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are the called according to His purpose.”
If we are sincere, we will find, even in the midst of trouble, the sure rift of light which separates the dark clouds and gives cheer and hope to the heart. We should never doubt God’s love for us and that whatever befalls us is ordained by Him for some wise purpose. Many times we are tempted, when the shadows fall heavily, to wonder if God cares, but of course He does; and if we trust Him, the time will surely come when we will feel true gratitude for the frowning providence which seemed to surround us. God’s ways are right, but we cannot always understand them. David didn’t. Many times he was cast down and disquieted, but peace came to his soul, and he was led to praise God even for his sorrows and afflictions (Ps. 119:71). This truth converts the most crushing defeat into a glorious victory and transforms the most malicious acts of our enemies into blows of kindness administered by a benevolent providence.
Satan knew that only God could touch Job. And when Satan was sent by God to afflict him, Job was quite right in recognizing God as the doer of those things which God ordained to be done (Job 1:21; 2:10). We will be greatly helped and blessed if we bear in mind that Satan is servant, not master. He and wicked men incited by him are allowed to do only that which God by His determinate counsel and foreknowledge has decided will be done. Whether it be joy or sorrow, we may always take it from the hand of God.
With the knowledge of this truth, why faint under any circumstance, whether favorable or unfavorable? Let God put “all things” to work for you, Reader! Storm and strife may surround you; nevertheless, the calming presence of God’s Spirit will prevail inside. It is foolish to become bitter when people speak evil of you. If they say something that hurts too much, God will put it on someone’s heart to lift you up, and your good traits will be pointed out as they never would have been without those unfavorable remarks. Have you lost a friend? Child of God, look up and shout! You have been raised in grace! Just wait and see if you have not.
I lost a congregation once by accepting more light on God’s Word. Some of the leaders thought I ought to be ousted from the movement and passed the word around that forced me out. Soon afterward, I entered into this tract ministry, which is now blessing more souls than I ever thought possible for a work of this kind to do. I confess, it was an entirely unexpected victory. Many thought my work was finished when I left this little group without an assignment. I must admit that I was numb from the blow for days. But even before the numbness wore off, God gave me this pen ministry, such a ministry as I had never dreamed possible, although I had felt the calling since soon after my conversion. I am now teaching thousands upon thousands, whereas I once taught only hundreds. Why should I feel bitter toward those who forced this triumph on me? Surely, “If God is for us, who is against us?”
You know, we owe much to our enemies, for we would never grow into the fullness of Christ without them. We have a work for Jesus that we enjoy and feel that if we should have to leave it, our very heart would be broken and our spirit crushed. God has something better for us and wants to surprise us with it, but we are fearful and unwilling to give Him the chance. How then does He get it to us? In various ways, of course. Often, some little soul, already wrapped with envy, starts a whispering campaign against us. Soon we find ourselves replaced. Then God surprises us with a package on our doorstep, and we catch our breath with surprise and wonder how we could ever have felt resentment for our previous loss. When Jesus returns and sets up his kingdom on the new earth, and I am given my part among the righteous – if such should be my lot – I intend to ask God how many of my enemies are there. If any of them have made it through, I intend to ask permission to polish the gold on their door knobs in gratitude for all they did for me when they thought they were doing something against me.
The apostle Paul prayed, you remember, that he might take the gospel to Rome, the world’s capital. Years later, he went to Rome, but how? He was transported there in chains as a criminal. God’s ways are not always easily understood. In this case, He called upon the imperial Roman government to pay the expenses and to furnish the ship for Paul’s journey. Paul’s ministry in Rome proves beyond all doubt that our enemies can be made to serve us if we leave the operation in the hands of God, believing all things work together for our good.
There was Israel, for another example, sent back from captivity into their own land, free from idolatry and slavery, and sent back not only with permission but also with funds to rebuild their city and temple and to re-establish God’s way of worship. Oh, how the Lord can use our enemies in helping us – when we obey and believe his Word!
God is patiently waiting to add to our spiritual strength and to fit us for a higher place in His kingdom. Yet, so many times we look at the things that happen to us as mere incidents, not seeing the hand of God nor feeling His love, which is above every hateful blow of the enemy. Remember, no one can be established in God until he has been tried (1Pet. 5:10). Often, this takes much time. God will wait years with us sometimes on a single lesson; that is, if we force Him to do so, or He will take us through it at once, provided that we are willing to take the hotter fire.
Yes, Reader, before we can be perfected, we must learn to see nothing but God in all things for us, and as we come into possession of this knowledge, we take on a shield of faith that nothing can pierce. Praise God, we will then be able to shout through every storm, “None of these things move me!” Child of God, these trials must continue to come your way until they don’t move you. Why? “For it is given to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him but also to suffer for him” (Phip. 1:29). We are not surprised at Job’s asking God, “What is man, that you should magnify him, or even think about him? Yet, you visit him every morning; every moment you try him.” Indeed, beloved, we are being tried, and that every moment, just as Job said. But then, think of the promise: “All things work together for good, for those who are the called according to His purpose.” Why, then, should we complain when things seemingly go wrong and our best friends turn from us? When we see “all things” working for us under the light of this truth, what a group of servants we will have! It was under this anointing that Paul proclaimed, “All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things that are present, or things to come; all things are yours, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God” (1Cor. 3:21–23).
Our Lord did not stop to find fault with Judas, nor did he stop to find fault with the great enemy who filled the heart of Judas to betray him. Rather, he said, “Must I not drink the cup that my Father has given me?” Oh, how quickly the feeling of being injured or insulted could be dismissed, if one would take his injury from the hand of a loving Savior, instead of seeing only the agent through whom it comes! It doesn’t matter who the messenger is, as long as we get the message.
Job was not mistaken in accepting God’s providential dealings as coming from God Himself. Neither will we be mistaken in following Job’s example, for we may be sure that it will bring us ultimate victory, because God is God, and hence, “We know that for those who love God, all things work together for good.”