Stop saying that God uses suffering to bring good. Cause it’s not true…

It’s been a rough few years. Well, that’s the understatement of the millennium…but it has been. For us collectively, for me personally, and probably for you too. But today is my birthday and I thought I’d write a note. I haven’t written about God or the church for a bit. Honestly, my heart is broken in many ways when it comes to church.

So here I am…out in the wilderness. It’s cool though. New adventures!

One of the things I heard in church so often is, “All things work together for good…” this is from a mediocre KJV translation of Romans 8:28 but this phrase has reached well beyond Christian circles to solidify its place in popular society. When bad things happen, we often say,

            Well, God will bring something good out of this.

Bullshit. That’s just bullshit.

Nothing good can come out of slavery. Nothing good from the oppression of the LGBTQ community. Nothing good comes out of cancer. Nothing good comes out of children dying in a school shooting. Nothing. And to say that God is using the situation to bring good removes all accountability and responsibility from those who hurt others, and looks to God to be a “turn that frown upside down” magician.

We now call this toxic positivity. This is toxic God positivity.

There’s another tricky verse we find in Genesis with Joseph. You know the story, right? When Joseph is revealed to his brothers, who sold him off into slavery, Joseph says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Now, if you know me you know that I think Joseph is an entitled, spoiled, lousy human and the Bible is trying to tell us, “Don’t be like Joseph! Don’t partner with Pharaoh to benefit the empire because if you do, the empire will turn on you and enslave your people.” But that’s for another day.

What is interesting in this conversation is this word, “intended.” In Hebrew the word is, CHASHAB. This word literally translates to, “to weave; to fabricate.” So, the verse should read something like this, “You weaved a plan to harm me, but God weaved a plan for good…”

I believe this word CHASHAB belongs in Romans 8 to literally mean, “All things are weaved together as God weaves good…”

God is the master weaver.

What does this mean for us? When bad things happen? Can anything good come from COVID? NO. This is awful. We are sick, dying, isolated, mentally breaking…no good comes from this.

But like it or not, it is part of our story. When people do bad things to us, they become part of our story. When life takes someone we love unexpectedly or breaks our heart – that becomes part of our story. Like a giant tapestry those experiences are weaved together to tell the story of our lives. Some threads are golden and bright and some threads are dark and painful.

Those dark threads never are “good.” They aren’t magically transformed into golden threads because something came out of a bad experience that made us stronger or took us in a new direction in life. We could have become stronger without the suffering. Life could have taken us in a new better direction without the tragedy. We don’t have to make sense of suffering as bringing about some good in the world. Because it doesn’t.

What life weaved against us, God is weaving into our story. It will always be there. Always part of our story. That thread will be a reminder of what we went through. It’s part of us. But we don’t have to suppress it. It’s there. As psychologists tell us, to suppress bad experiences or invalidate them with platitudes gives them more power over us. It is only when we bring them out into the light, call them what they truly are, acknowledge the pain…only then can we put that experience in its proper place so that it doesn’t hold power over us any longer.  

So, what does all this “good” mean?

To me, it means that with God, the master weaver, those dark threads are just part of our story. And although they will always be there in our tapestry of life, there will come other golden threads too because God is always working to weave good into our lives.

There’s the good. Good doesn’t come out of tragedy or suffering. God doesn’t turn tragedy or suffering into something good. Rather, God weaves it into our story and works to surround that dark thread with love, joy, peace – with the good of grace.

God is always working for good for everyone.

Nothing good came out of slavery. Nothing good comes out of oppression. But God is working to bring good into the lives of those who have suffered so terribly. Weaving new threads of love and light into the tapestry of our lives.

God, the master weaver is weaving all things into our tapestry of life, always working to bring good in our lives, always taking the dark threads that life deals us and weaves good threads around it.

God, the master weaver of good.

I hope that’s good news for you today.

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