God works out all things

How much time do we spend thinking about our problems? If it looks anything like our screen time, it’s probably way more time than we would like to admit.

Think about a situation or circumstance in your life that unfolded almost perfectly. Did you do something to make it happen? Was it all made possible by your hard work and determination? Could you have done anything to make it happen as perfectly as it did? Or did it feel as though things just fell into place, like God was behind it all along?

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Now focus your attention on a current problem or situation that you just can’t seem to work out. Yep, that one. You keep mulling it over in your mind and trying to come up with a dozen different hypothetical scenarios to solve it or mentally prepare for the worst case. No matter how often your loved ones remind you that you’ve done everything you can and it’s all in God’s hands, you just can’t seem to let go. It feels like it’s all up to you to figure it out.

You tell yourself the stress is only temporary and the mental strain is worth it. Once you figure this one out, you will finally be able to relax and the rest of your week, month and year will be a cakewalk.

Sound familiar?

A scriptural reminder

Recently I ran into a passage that put my worries in a new light for me. The main message was that one of the major lies we tell ourselves is that once we solve the problem in front of us, then we will be able to be at peace. But in reality, the very act of ruminating on our problems prevents us from experiencing the love God has for us right now, in this moment.

I had never thought about my “worry marathons” like this before. It had never occurred to me that hyper-focusing on solving my problems was actually my problem, and not just the problems themselves. Worrying gives the illusion that you are doing something, but in reality it paralyzes you. The truth is, once we solve the first problem, another one takes its place all too quickly and we never experience the treasured rest we promised ourselves. Then we worry and obsess over solving the next issue until it’s resolved, and the cycle continues. It is not so much the issues themselves that steal our joy so much as our unhealthy rumination habits that draw us away from absorbing God’s love in our midst.

There is a verse that has been popping up in my life everywhere I go. From song lyrics, to random Instagram posts, to Sunday homilies, I am reminded of Romans 8:28 at least once a month: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God.”

This verse reminds us that we are not the ones who are solving our problems; God is the one working it all out. Notice how this verse does not say “… for the good of those who obsess over solving their problems and won’t sleep until everything is figured out.”

The key to our problems

The key to working your problems out is to simply love God. Call to mind all the problems he has worked out before for you, and trust that his love is greater than any obstacle you will face. Love him who takes care of you. Love him when you’re tired, when you’re cranky, when you are sick of your coworkers and don’t feel like making dinner for your family. Just love God, and he will be overjoyed to work all things out for your good — in his timing. He loves you more than you could imagine and far more than you could love yourself. He wants better for you than your wildest dreams. That might mean everything doesn’t work out the way you think it will — in fact, that is a guarantee that it won’t. But it does mean that if you love God with your whole heart, mind and soul, that you have nothing to worry about.

Instead of trying to control what we can’t, what if we worked hard at what we could change and then put the rest of our energy into fully embracing the love God has for us? We would be more at peace if we lived out of a place of abundance, knowing that striving for an outcome won’t achieve what we want if it’s not God’s will. It’s like working really hard at your career and saving all your money only to spend it on something meaningless versus investing that money into something that will enrich your life in a meaningful way. If we take the time and energy we spend worrying about our problems and instead invest in receiving the love of God, we will get more of a “return on our investment” than we could have imagined.

But how do we receive the love of God? By being still, by resting in the Lord, and by inviting him into your heart, no matter how burdened it may be. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. … For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Mt 11:28, 30).

By setting your mind at ease and just letting God love you, you get more peace and joy than if you forced yourself to solve the problem in the first place. Instead of immediately flying into solving the next problem, you will be rested, at peace and content with what God is doing in your life. He wants to work out all things for your good.

And he will if you let him.

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