Help for the Hero
This week’s verse is one of my all-time favorites. I mean, how many Scriptures can you find that tell you that no matter now many times have you sinned, or been sad, that God is working things together for your good? Well, there are lots of them actually, but this one still stands out as a total fave. I think it’s because so many times I have been regretful of sin, or sad because of someone else’s sin that affected me, but then found that God somehow redeemed the broken path I was on. I don’t know about you, but for me, this has happened too many times to count, since it’s the story of my life. Of course there are still some things I am waiting to see turned around and used for good, and I am aware some of these may have to wait until Heaven to get the full picture. However, I am so very glad for these Heavenly glimpses I have received on earth that point to the Lord’s call on my life despite my own failings.
One Romans 8:28 instance in our family legacy began with my mother hoping and praying for my father to come to Christ. Though my mother came from a loving Christian family, she married a man, my father, who was not walking with the Lord, and in fact, even felt hostile to God at times. As a predictable result, my mother had many stormy years ahead, though there were many good times also. In these forty-one years of marriage, my mother did countless loving deeds for my father, including bearing four children and being an excellent wife and stay at home mother. When she had her stroke over ten years ago, my father’s life fell to pieces. He had never fully appreciated what he had in mom, and as a result found himself in utter despair at the prospect of losing her. A few months after the ordeal, and while she was still recovering at a nearby rehabilitation facility, some Christians came to my father’s doorstep and witnessed to him. He was so broken, lonely, and desolate, that at that very moment, he got saved. When my mother had recovered enough to be coherent (for her severe stroke had many complications), we told her of my father’s salvation. Without a pause, my mother began to sing, “Blessed Assurance” boldly from her hospital bed, while utter joy glistened on her smiling face.
That is one great example of how God works all things for the good of those who love Him! This true story is a powerful reminder to us that there is redemption for even those regrets we have that we count as our “greatest sins,” though of course God doesn’t count one sin as larger than another. In fact, my father took my mother home and lovingly cared for her for the final twelve years of their marriage, as only the most loving Christian husband could do, treating her with dignity of a beautiful wife, even though in many ways she was like a toddler.
Though years earlier, my mother went against her better judgment and married someone she knew would bring much trouble, she didn’t keep on doing things to keep herself apart from God. She served her family, brought us to church, tithed out of her small portion, and loved us all so well. Let’s follow her brave lead by continuing to serve and praise God for His help and grace even when we become discouraged. Let’s quickly repent of our sins, bravely face the earthly consequences, ask forgiveness of the Lord and anyone else we need to, and move on in His grace. Let’s not be afraid to share our own Romans 8:28 stories with our children also, so they can see how faithful God is to never leave or nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) despite our waywardness.
Think of one of your biggest tragedies in life, whether there was sin involved or not. Has God revealed any of His greater purposes to you from that story yet? Have you seen redemption? If you cannot see His plan just yet, don’t give up! Your job is to wait on God, and just do your best until He chooses to reveal purpose to your pain. One of the best mentors of my life said, “If we only do our part, God will always do His.” It’s wonderful to see His faithfulness in these instances. Take a few moments this week to journal some of your own Romans 8:28 stories as a great way to remind yourself of His faithfulness to restore at all times.
Kids Can Too!!
One way to help your kids become heroes for God is to help them with the wonderful habit of looking for God’s blessings even in or after a tragedy or hardship. Some of this can come through your stories, the world news stories they learn about, and as they grow older, the sad stories in their very own lives. Romans 8:28 is a great verse to share with them in any of these instances.
When sadness hits the Hardin home, such as when we miss an event we were looking forward to, or someone is unexpectedly sick, my children often hear me ask, “What do you do when you get lemons?” One of them usually replies, “You make lemonade.” Even young children can understand that this cliché means you think outside of the box to turn your sadness into something positive. As God’s followers, we have been called to renew our minds (Romans 12:2) and to think on things lovely and good (Phil 4:8). This week, join me in helping God’s kids to know this fun and biblical truth, that even sour things can become sweet when given over to God.
If you have a marriage that can be difficult at times, think about my mother and father and be encouraged. Though it took years, the prize of my father coming to Christ was a huge blessing to my mom. Many told us at her funeral that they had never seen such Christ-like love in a husband. If you had asked me if this would ever be possible when I grew up with my parents, I would have laughed sarcastically. Now, since God floored me with that surprise, I am all ears in looking for His surprises in these Romans 8:28 moments. Please, don’t give up on your marriage if you have a difficult situation. Pray for God to turn your husband’s heart, and ask Him give you the strength you need to get through and even to thrive in your marriage. Of course, if you are in a dangerous or abusive situation, get help right away, and run, don’t walk to get your family in a safer position.
How can I thank You enough for Your forgiveness and grace that comes so faithfully, time and again! I could never count all of the ways You have saved me from sin. I am eternally grateful to You for it. May I never purpose to sin so that grace may abound, but Lord, may I strive to walk freely and obediently in Your grace, and bring others toward You as well. Amen.