There is a difference in the Greek and American interpretations of the following verse:

“For we know that all things work together for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.”

The “those who love God” is a plural, a collective word.  America was founded on the pursuit of happiness, and the Bible is about the abiding presence of Joy.

They aren’t the same thing, folks.

Jeremiah 29:11 is tossed around all over the place, but read ALL of Jeremiah and Isaiah, read Ezekiel and Chronicles.  What did “God’s Plan For Your Life” mean to them?  They starved to death, ate their own children to stay alive, their young men were killed, or castrated, they were hauled off to slavery and exiled for 70 years.

(Interesting side note: this 70 years fulfilled the Sabbath rests that sinful Israel had not given the land as God commanded them in their farming practices.)

Did it work out for good?  YES, FOR THE NATION OF ISRAEL, not for each individual Israeli.  Jeremiah foretold that after the exile the people of Israel would never turn from the Law to idols again.  (This is true.  By Jesus’ time they had made an idol out of the law., but no more golden calves, hilltop phallic symbols, or sacrificing your orgy-created children in pits to Molech.)

Similarly, God will work everything out for Good for his children, collective, plural, who he has called and who love him.  If I get turned into a bug-smear on the side of the road, God can use my funeral to reach someone with the Gospel.  I know of a missionary to North Korea who was killed in the river on the way into the country.  A peasant used pages of his Bible to seal cracks in his house’s wall.  Only later did he start to read them, unto his salvation.

WHY say this?  Because Satan loves to provide us with half-truths.  He has false prophets like Joel Osteen to tell you how God promises you things he never did: EARTHLY success, EARTHLY wealth, EARTHLY family, EARTHLY love… and when that supposedly promised health, wealth, and frighteningly white smile does not appear, Satan has you all set up to doubt God’s truth, his love, and his honesty.

It’s a plot to take your faith away, to destroy you from the soul outward.

But when we place our trust in God’s true Word, correctly read, correctly preached, we find a peace and strength that Satan cannot destroy.

My health is failing and I’m getting old?  Read Psalm 103:2-5 for a glimpse of the health, forgiveness, and eternal youth that awaits you.

Do you suffer trials and hardships here?  Consider what happened to Job, and how God repaid him at the end.  Consider Romans 8:18 which does not promise an earthly deliverance, but says that no possible suffering can compare to what’s waiting for us.  Read Hebrews 12 and see how even in suffering God is pouring out his love.  (That verb in the Greek for disciplining his children is mastikeo, or, “I flog”.  We’re talking Passion of the Christ cat-o-ninetails scenes here.

Read the start of 2 Corinthians about how God will see us through our sufferings and give us then the power to help our fellow sufferers for the comfort that we ourselves have received.

Read Hebrews to see that our Great High Priest feels our weaknesses and temptations in every way just as we have, so we need have no shame whether we’re struggling with chocolate, violence, doubt, pride, or an unwanted desire to do bad things to farm animals.  You can’t gross Jesus out because Satan threw everything his way.  Not homosexuality, not murder, not adultery, nor doubt: nothing can bar you from Jesus’ love and compassion.

Just repent, believe, and seek a better understanding of his ruthless, relentless, unstoppable love.

Read Ephesians chapter 1 to hear how God has looked forward to your first breath before the first wave lapped onto a shore, before the first star shone, before he created a single critter (take THAT Disney), YOU were already the delight of God’s eye.

Those truths are there in joy and in suffering, in prosperity and in persecution, when you are surrounded by loved ones or feel so alone that they might as well not exist.  

That is the Rock Satan cannot move.  That is the true prosperity of our identity in Christ.

Don’t take my word for it.  Faith comes by hearing the message, and the message is heard by the spoken word of Christ (Romans 10:7 my translation) so go tell yourself, read it yourself, speak the Word out loud.

(In other words, be a Prophet.)

And be blessed today because of the great truth and promises of the God who loves you so very much.

Amen.

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