This blog was written by Mike, CEO Open Doors Australia.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him… – Romans 8:28 (NIV)
2015 has been a tough year, spiritually, physically and emotionally… made even worse by a selfish expectation I have of Jesus… for some strange reason I have conformed Jesus to a mix of Superman and Santa Claus… essentially this unseen vending machine in the sky where I do my best to live a Christian life and in return He provides me with “safe” passage and all the good things I’ve ever wanted…
I’ve spent years thinking (and in some cases being told) that verses like Romans 8:28 tell me that because I am a follower of Jesus my life should be full of good things!
“If” that’s the case then I am not sure why my year has also contained the following;
- In January I lost 10kg from 2 weeks of gastro
- In February I lost $30,000 to a credit card scam through a small business I own
- In November I was diagnosed with para-thyroid disease and 2 weeks later in surgery
- The day after surgery I suffered a bulging disc in my back and was bed ridden for a week.
- 2015 was a year with consistent sickness in our household
- and 2015 was a year with consistently big problems within our wider families
However, in the last year I’ve also:
- Spent time in refugee camps with Christians displaced by ISIS
- Listened to story after story of “good things” in life being taken from people but seeing them still passionately follow Christ.
In one case I met a multi-millionaire property developer who told me how he had been forced to flee his home by ISIS and had lost everything! All his property, all his worth… everything. However, he went on to say that living in this refugee camp he realised that maybe all that stuff had started to get in the way of his relationship with Jesus… and he said to me;
“Yes I may have lost everything but I’ve never felt closer to Jesus than here helping in these camps.”
As I thought through this and married it with Romans 8:28 I realised I was missing one crucial part, you see, the verse tells me that…
God works ” all things” not “all good things” which means that God uses the good things and the bad things, the times of harvest and the moments of arid dryness in our lives for good.
As I think back over 2015 and the ups and downs I can now see that following Jesus isn’t meant to be a love story where every chapter ends the way I want it to, faith… it comes with a cost and is a love story that ends with eternity not worldly gain..
If more of God meant less of the pleasures of the world would you still wake up tomorrow with a passion for him?
I found this year that the greatest times of growth in my life, leadership and faith came from the moments of refinement, the moments of testing and it has had great ramifications in my marriage, leadership and life.
Jesus isn’t a mix between Superman and Santa Claus and by following Him we don’t get a life full of materialistic blessing and fruit… we get a great commission that involves sacrifice, hardship and a call to shine as brightly for Him as we can and sometimes that story doesn’t end in worldly delight…
A wise person once said to me;
Life is tough but God is good!
Simple yet profound.
God works all things, all things… for the good of those who love him.
Have a wonderful Christmas serving the Creator of the heavens and the earth, a God who has a purpose and plan for your life and who in the moments of struggle is as close as ever.
This blog is originally from Mike’s blog on LinkedIn.
Mike Gore is the CEO for Open Doors Australia. Mike is passionate about people and building teams. To contact Mike or book him to speak to your team, church or organisation please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02 9451 2999.
All speaker fees and honorariums need to be made directly to Open Doors Australia.
Open Doors has been serving the persecuted church for 60 years and works in countries where faith costs the most. To find out more or sign up to support people who share our faith but not our freedom please click here.