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

This is one of the most encouraging verses in the Bible in my opinion. It is so easy to be overwhelmed by whatever hard things life throws at us. The guarantee of life is that there will be difficulties we have to face. One of the greatest things I have been able to grasp is the truth at the core of this verse.

God works all things for the good of those who love him. What does that mean to you? It does not mean that everything you go through will be good. In fact, by acknowledging that he works ALL things or the good of those who love him shows that not all things are good.

When I was able to fully understand this verse it changed my perspective on the way I lived my life. Instead of being on a roller coaster where the top is God is good, and the bottom being he's bad, I was able to step off and know that he is good, period. His character doesn't change in my circumstances. Having understood that, I also knew that he didn't cause bad things to happen to me just because. Rather, he used whatever circumstance I was in to teach me things about himself.

I often found myself in a thought pattern that if I made the wrong choice, I was outside of God's will. That is a lie. There are obviously things he tells us through the scriptures to avoid, but i'm talking about the decisions like "should I major in biology?". Yes, this is an important decision and I do not want to belittle that. However, I know that despite that decision, the Lord is going to use you. The Lord is bigger than the major we choose and the study abroad we go on. If you want to go on that mission trip, just do it. A desire to go is enough.

I also learned that this verse is full of grace because God is full of grace. Sometimes we get a choice with God, but sometimes his desires are clear. When we deviate from what we know he wants there will be consequences, but that does not mean there is no grace. The beauty of this verse is the promise that he will work our mistakes for good. I'm sure you can remember a time when things weren't going your way, whether that was your own doing or not, and you learned from it. It shaped you to become who you are today. That is a testimony to this verse and how the Lord uses all that we go through for our good. He doesn't have to do that. He's just that good.