All Things?

As we come to our final chapter there is a truth we need to address that is a fitting conclusion to Dancing with the Scars not matter what created them. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, the violence of divorce, the betrayal of a friend or any of the topics we have discussed in previous chapters there is one thing that is common among them all and that is that well meaning people say well intended things that either aggravate the wound or seem insensitive considering the circumstances. We have all done it and most who have have experienced a life wound have experienced it. Here is an example of what I’m talking about; A person has lost a loved one and someone who genuinely cares asks how they are doing. The person on the receiving end wants to scream; How do you think I’m doing? I’m doing awful, I just lost my child or spouse, parent or sibling! But, the one in pain is generally kind and receives the well meant inquiry with grace and says they are hanging in there or some other expected response. I can think back on a few times where I wish I could reel in my words when offering condolences to a suffering person even though they were well meant but poorly chosen.

The most common among those statements expressed to people at a time of loss or injury is a well known verse from Romans, that while true, is often poorly timed when offered.

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.

Romans 8:28

The day of the trauma or tragedy is not the time to be sharing such a verse. When someones mind is encased in shock as a defense mechanism to protect the brain from sensory overload. This is not the right verse to share at the funeral with someone in grief or on the day the layoff notice came or when the heart is trying to survive betrayal having been broken into a thousand pieces. Think about saying “All things work together for good” to the parent of a stillborn child or the spouse of a murder victim. It does’t fit the moment but it does beg the question; What does All Things mean? Can it possibly apply to the aforementioned scenarios? Does All Things include even those things? The answer is yes, but with an explanation.

First of all we need to understand what Romans 8:28 is not saying. It is not saying that the loss of a loved one or the ending of a marriage or the consequences of friendly fire are actually “good things.” What Romans is actually saying is; When life is at its worst, when pain and wounds are the deepest, God can do something in you that is good. “Like what?” you may be thinking. What possible good can God do in me when I lost my child or mate, what good can come from betrayal or abandonment? Their first thing to note is that there are things that there will never be any good “in” but there can be good that comes through them. Nothing we have discussed in any of the chapters can be seen as “good.”

I must say, however, that I would not even hazard a guess at how many times these very scenarios have lead to seeing the goodness of God being manifested in someones life in such times. I have seen the goodness of God manifested in the life of people who endured great trauma and tragedy in the form of strength and peace that passes understanding. I have seen people betrayed and abandoned who displayed the goodness of God by forgiving the unforgivable and displaying grace and mercy to the degree that none could deny the goodness of God was showing through them. I have seen more people that I can count who have had their personal traumas turn into ministries and while there was and never will be any good “in” the circumstances they endured, good came from them in that they used their traumatic experience as the voice of experience to offer others counsel in a way that no one else can.

Excerpt from “Dancing With the Scars” now available on Amazon.