“the things which have happened to me have turned out for the furtherance of the gospel”
I have been a Christian all my life, and while sometimes I feel quite mature in my faith, other times I feel quite the toddler. But I am long past the place of having doubts about God’s sovereignty, His might, or the power of His will. I love the analogy that life on earth is like a cruise ship ~ no matter what activities are happening on board, the progress and the plan of the ship does not alter. So it is with God’s purpose and His plan ~ nothing will change its course.
But while I have no doubt that the events in my life are orchestrated or allowed by Him, I very often wonder “why?“
I am the type of person who feels better when I have some control in situations. I think a lot of us are like that to a certain extent, and I think understanding (or thinking I understand) why God has allowed something in my life gives me back some control. Maybe I even subconsciously feel that if I understand the purpose, then I’m willing to allow it. That’s the joy of self-delusion, isn’t it?
For instance: the reason God had my family move from the east coast to the west coast was so that I would meet my husband. Or the reason God allowed my daughter to be sick that day was so that I’d be home when that phone call came. I don’t believe that God micromanages, but I do believe His words that He works all things for good for those who love Him.
But the best explanations are in Scripture. There are a lot of “why’s” that God never explained, but the ones He did should give us an explanation to the others. A couple of my favorites are Exodus 8:10 ~ “that you may know there is no one like the Lord our God,” and Psalm 67:2 ~ “that Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all the Gentiles.” For while I enjoy focusing on me and my life ~ don’t you? ~ I need to be reminded that it’s all about Him. His will, His plan, His glory.
What a joyous realization this must have been for Paul when he wrote these words… to know that all he had gone through was for a reason. For God’s reason! Not just to strengthen Paul, or make him famous, but for the furtherance of the gospel. And the beautiful, poetic part was that that was Paul’s desire for his life. It’s almost as if had said to God, “Lord, I devote my life – my words and actions, to the furtherance of Your gospel.” And then God replied, “Excellent! Then as My gift to you, I’ll make sure that things in your life over which you have control, will also turn out for the furtherance of the gospel!” A man’s flesh and God’s Holy Spirit in that man, working in perfect synchronicity.
I know God’s ultimate purpose for my life will surely be achieved. What a joy to realize that His doing so will also achieve a far holier goal: the furtherance of the gospel. With that knowledge, it makes it easier to remember that I’m really not in control!