Over the past months, I have been trying to make sense of where I am today, five and a half years on from that life altering event. My difficulty is that I have been afraid that what I say may both hurt my family and not be understood. So my blog has remained untouched, but I want to start again processing my thoughts through writing.
Today I want to grapple with a topic that in many ways is so hurtful and yet it’s a verse from the scriptures!
I don’t know about you but I have heard, read and had it said to me “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Rm8:28 For 20+ years I have grappled to understand this verse. I find it one of the most hurtful things to say when there has been tragedy! It makes my blood boil, but why?
Some years ago when I was studying business, I came across the word synergy “The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of the individual effects”. This was a great help at that time to be more at peace with this verse. Individually, an event can be bad, but combined with other events, the sum total can be good! Of course we are talking here about spiritual good. I just could not accept that a rape, murder, death of a loved one etc could be “good” as I listened to some well-meaning but annoying person come out with “And we know that all things……………” Are you crazy? Do you not have an ounce of compassion in your soul? Have you never experienced pain of loss or rejection? These are the type of thoughts I would quietly hold.
I am a huge fan on the topic of narrative or story. I love to ask the question, what is the narrative here? That can be a question for an individual, family, community, and nation. If you want to understand the culture and behavior of Carlisle, you have to look at the story. A city that is on the boarder of England and Scotland, a city that has been invaded and ruled for short periods by non-English. Once you dig into the narrative, you can see the longer term effects that has had on the formation of current culture.
So what has that to do with this verse?
There are four parts to God’s story, Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration. We are in the 3rd part of the story, redemption. Simply put, God through Jesus has made a way to deal with our wrong and bring us back into relationship with Himself. This is the redemptive story. Mike’s death, someone else’s horrible story only make’s sense, when it is placed within the redemptive story. Outside of that, it remains a terrible event. But when we look at it within the context of the redemptive story, well it changes everything. I witnessed the other week two sisters being baptized as a sign of their relationship with Father God, on the one year death anniversary of their amazing Godly mother. Their mom suffered from MS for many years and was wheel chair bound. “BAD”. But she loved Jesus and had a wonderful active walk with her Saviour. Her life and death had a huge impact on these ladies and God used it within the Redemptive Story to bring these daughters into beautiful reconciliation with Himself.
We have seen God take Mike’s story and use it in ways we could never imagine for “GOOD”, even good in my, Kathy, Akila and Laura’s character. I can only see that now after 5 1/2 years. We only see the “good” as we look back. There is no “good” in the storm!
So I have moved on from accepting this verse in the context of “Synergy”. Today, I can accept that God can take something so horrible, so painful, so bewildering and use it to continue writing His Story, The Redemptive Story. I would still plead with my friends to not speak this verse to people who are going through a hard time. Just love them and be quiet and let God be God and pray He can use a bad situation for good as He continues writing His Redemptive Story. Then years later or as time has passed, look at the narrative and yes join me and say with tears running down “Nothing but good has come from Mike’s death”