As Christians we are always striving. We strive against sin (Hebrews 12:4), we strive together in prayers to God (Romans 15:30), and we strive to enter the narrow door (Luke 13:24). We do our best to present ourselves to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed. We read our Bibles and try to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. We strive and we try because anything less does not honor the one who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. Anything less is not taking up our cross and following Him. But what happens when the best of all our striving and trying isn’t good enough? No matter how hard we tried, we still fail God, our fellow man, or ourselves. It happens. And when it does, we have to remember that God makes even our failures work toward our good.
Remember the old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? Lies. Words hurt, and sometimes worse than physical injury. The worst kind of hurt, at least for me, is the kind that comes with the knowledge that I was part of the problem, that my actions were at least part of the cause. That happened to me this week. I tried my best in a situation at work, but it wasn’t good enough, and a supervisor let me know in a very public, very humiliating way that I was no longer needed on a particular project. I was hurt and embarrassed by her words to me in front of coworkers, and I cried all the way home and for a couple hours even after. I have always been a very emotional person, taking things hard and personally. I knew my supervisor was stressed about the end of the school year and trying to make sure everything was done, and I didn’t blame her. I blamed myself for my own ineptitude.
So where do Christians go when we are sad and hurt? We go straight to our Father. As I was driving and crying, I kept asking God for a verse. That’s how He helps me when I’m sad or upset. I come to Him in distress, spinning and fussing and gesticulating my hands until He stops me in my tracks with the very verse from the Bible that makes it all better, the verse that puts things into perspective so that I can move forward past the pain. This time it was Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Except He didn’t stop there. He had a question for me: “Do you really believe ALL things?” I didn’t have to think long before the answer was clear. I believe what the Bible says, and if the Bible says “all things,” that means all things. Even this experience that made me feel so low and still sits in the bottom of my belly, throbbing with the low hum that really only diminishes with time, can be used for good.
1 Corinthians 1:26-30 explains a lot. God doesn’t call the wise, strong, or noble. He calls the foolish, weak, and base, and I don’t know about you, but I cop to all three. No matter how hard we try, we aren’t always going to get things right. We can ask for wisdom for our foolishness, and God’s strength is sufficient for our weakness. Only God is good, but as Christians, we have His Spirit living inside us, changing us from the inside out little by little to make us more like Him every day. In the meantime, God makes everything that happens to us – both good and bad – work together for our good, and I praise Him for it.