February 20, 2018 • Life for Leaders
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will…
In yesterday’s devotion, I paused in the middle of a phrase to consider the fact that God is working. Today, I want to the think about what it means that God is the one who “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”
The Greek word translated here as “everything” is panta. We just encountered this word for the first time in Ephesians in the previous verse: “[The mystery of God’s will is] to bring unity to all things [panta] in heaven and on earth under Christ” (1:10). Now we learn that God is working out (or working in) all things right now, taking the apparently disconnected aspects of reality and weaving them together into a tapestry of his grace. This thought in Ephesians 1:11 reminds us of Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Sometimes we can sense that God is working out everything in our lives. Windows of opportunity open for us. Apparent coincidences reveal God’s gracious providence. We sense God’s activity in us, through us, and around us.
Yet, there are times when we simply cannot fathom God’s work in our lives and in our world. It can feel as if God is distant or even cruel. We look around and see all things in disarray. Our own hearts share in this disorder. Thus, our faith that God is working out all things according to his will can be sorely tested. When this happens, we need God’s help to hold fast to the truth of Scripture. Sometimes, this divine help comes through people who stand with us, pray for us, and embrace us with love. Sometimes, we are the people whom God uses to reassure others that he is, indeed, working out all things for good, both his and ours. Sometimes, we wait, and wait, and wait. The Spirit of God helps us to hang on even when our faith falters.
If you’re going through a difficult stretch in your life, hold on to the truth of God’s Word. Know that God is working in all things for the best, even if you can’t see it or feel it. God is with you and his love will never let you go.
Something to Think About:
Have there been times in your life when you doubted whether God was working out everything for good?
Are you in one of these times right now?
What helps you to trust God even when appearances and experiences would encourage you to abandon hope?
Something to Do:
Think about the people in your life. Are there some who are struggling to see God at work? Reach out to them, not with empty platitudes, but with prayer and loving compassion. Allow the Lord to love them through you.
Gracious God, how thankful I am that you are working out all things according to your will. As I look back at my life, I can see things now that I couldn’t see then. I can see how you were at work even in events that made no sense to me at the time. Help me, Lord, to trust you with what I cannot understand today.
I pray for those who are struggling to trust you, that you would make known to them your grace. I pray especially for those who are suffering and wonder why you seem so absent. Reach out to them with your love. Energize your people, Lord, to extend your embracing arms to others. Use me in this way today. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Nothing Can Come Between Us and the Love of God (Romans 8:31-39)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.