How long could you go without a source of income? If you didn’t have a paying job for a few months or even a year, would you still be able to trust that God was working everything together for your good?
When Larry Ward founded Food for the Hungry (FH) at the age of 45, he felt a clear call from God. According to Norman Rohrer’s biography of Dr. Ward, One at a Time, Dr. Ward had just received a pay increase at his previous job. Yet he resigned from that position to follow God’s call.
Rohrer writes, “In (Dr. Ward’s) new mission, he would work for two years without a salary. He was not beginning with small plans. He was prepared to pay the price of venture.”
Did you catch that? He was a successful, driven professional with a young family at home, yet he would go for two years without a salary.
Two years without any income would make most of us wonder if we had truly heard God’s call. But in moments when God’s timeline doesn’t appear to match up with our expectations, we can trust God’s promises.
A Promise for Our Good
Romans 8:28 is a promise that rang true for Dr. Ward, as it has been true for Christians throughout history.
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. – Romans 8:28 (NIV)
The Living Bible translation words it this way: “And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.”
The Apostle Paul wrote the book of Romans, which many consider to be the most rich theological treatise in Scripture. He begins chapter 8 by discussing the differences between living by the Spirit and living by the flesh. He points out that living by the Spirit makes us sons and daughters of God.
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. – Romans 8:16, 17 (NIV)
Then Paul compares the sufferings that we face in this life with “the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). He entreats us to wait patiently and to trust that the Spirit intercedes for us when we don’t know what to pray for.
All Things Work Together
The promise of Romans 8:28 that God works for our good “in all things” is reassuring. It means that no matter the circumstance, there are only two qualifiers for God to be working all things together for our good.
First, He works for “the good of those who love Him.” If you love God, you can trust that He is working for your good. He loves you back, and when we love people, we seek their welfare.
Second, He works for “those who are called according to His purpose.” Do you realize that following God entails submitting to His purpose for you? You have been called by Him for a purpose that He holds for your life.
In fact, the wording of this verse suggests that these two qualifiers–loving God and experiencing His call–are actually one. Those who love God are called according to His purpose. And vice versa.
Being called according to God’s purpose also reminds us what “our good” actually is. It’s not our comfort or worldly success. It’s the furthering of His purpose through us.
Small and Large Things
Today, FH workers continue to see God working things together for their good every day.
Amalia Toc has served with FH in her home country of Guatemala for 11 years. As a child she lived in an FH community and was a sponsored child. Later, as an adult, she learned of a job opportunity at FH and applied.
Amalia took the step of faith to work for FH, but in her first few weeks on the job, she doubted God’s call. She couldn’t see God working all things together for her good. Like Dr. Ward, she took a pay cut to join staff at FH. She also left behind a job with a pending promotion, frequent bonuses, and good friends.
When she arrived at FH, her first task was to translate a stack of letters between sponsored children and their sponsors. “Although I enjoyed translating the letters, it became monotonous after a few days. The doubt hit me again.”
Amalia’s strong faith kept her coming to work. “Then I stumbled upon a letter that brought the answer I was looking for,” she said. “The sponsors wrote with so much love to a sponsored child. They told this young girl how much Jesus loved her, and that He had beautiful plans for her life. They encouraged her continue working hard in school.”
“Reading the letter brought me to tears,” she said. “I could feel that those words were from God to me, too. Since then, I’ve known that God wanted me here.”
How About You?
Are you going through a circumstance where you can’t see God working? When Dr. Ward founded FH, he had already been through many faith-building experiences that led him to trust God’s promise to work things together for his good. He persevered through those two years of need by remembering God’s faithfulness in the past. And later, as he continued to face challenges and hardships in ministry, he gained strength by looking back on that time as yet another circumstance in which God had worked.
Likewise, Amalia has had the courage to serve with FH for the past 11 years because she can remember a specific way that He spoke into her life when she felt lonely and confused.
Today, take a moment to thank God that He is working all things together for your good, even in the circumstances where you can’t yet see the result.
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