I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase before: “you’re up to no good”. It’s intended as an acknowledgement for those who may be a little more than mischievous. God however, is always up to good! The question is are we up to know good? At times, God allows things to happen in our lives to teach us, to correct us, to shape us: and it’s always for our good. Romans 8:28 says:
28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.HCSB
This verse literally means that everything that happens in our lives has our “good” as it’s intended end result. Honestly, there are times when I would question that. We all do. Simply think about the times when, as a child, we had pain inflicted upon us in the form of having a bone reset, or stitches woven into our skin. The pain was worth the gain. The greater good outweighed any resistance we could muster.
There are also hard much more difficult things to explain like the death of a child or the loss of a spouse through death or divorce. Situations like these bring hard questions to answer and lead to doubt and mistrust of God. The Bible is replete with similar stories of people who faced hardships and seemingly “unfair” disadvantages. Yet at the end of their lives, we are able to see the good that God brought about. Romans 15:4 says:
4 For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures. HCSB
In the same way, as a loving Father, God uses all things…even painful things to work together for my good and His glory. I have to admit that in painful times, it is hard to want to know anything good. I don’t really care what’s good…all I care about is feeling good. How am I going to work on knowing good?
1) I have to trust God with ALL areas of my life.
If God is up to good all the time, that means that when something happens in any area of my life: financial, marital, family, social, etc. that it is a time for me to search out knowing the good I can demonstrate and the good that God is trying to orchestrate. It is easy to blame God when things don’t go the way I want them to instead of seeking to learn about God and or about myself.
2) I have to look at learning ALL the time.
To be honest, I don’t always want to learn. Early in the morning, before the day gets going, or late at night when it’s time for bed, who wants to experience the school of “hard-knocks”? NO ONE! But if I am to know good, that means that some lessons are best learned early in the morning when I am not expecting a lesson. Or perhaps late at night, when I am ready to go to bed and have to be roused to help someone out. I don’t want to learn when it’s inconvenient. I don’t want to learn when I’m tired. Yet, those are often the best times God chooses to teach me and seeks for me to know and do good.
3) Knowing good means I’m knowing God.
When I make feeling good my aim, I have replaced God with myself. In those times my desires, my pleasures, and my opinion of what is best for me supersedes what God KNOWS is best for me. Thinking and knowing are two entirely different things. If I am to know what’s really good, that means I have to stop thinking of myself as “god” and start KNOWING God as He is. James 1:17 says:
Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning. HCSB
4) I have to be committed to the process.
For 12 years I attended school and gained a high school diploma. After another 4.5 years I had achieved a BA from college. During that time tests, studying, projects and papers were all part of the process in making me the person I am today. To be sure God used my education, the friendships and situations from my childhood ’til now to shape me and make all that I am. All of it has not been pleasant and there are more than several occasions where I have done bad and been bad. As I look back through it all though, I see God’s goodness and the good that He has wrought in me because of the process of the life I have lived. I didn’t see it all then but I can see some of it now. As I journey forward, I have to remember that whatever God allows is part of the process in growing and and knowing Him and knowing the good He wants me to share with those around me.
George Lockhart: seeking to become a wholehearted follower of Jesus