“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Over the years, there have been numerous occasions where people have come up to me after I was finished speaking to share with me a tragedy in their life. Many of these stories were heartbreaking and difficult to hear. If you hear a lot of hard stories, it is tempting to not really listen to the person. Instead of serving them well, you give them some trite Christian clichés to apply to their pain, but in the end you offer them no hope.
One time I was visiting with a friend who is a pastor and a biblical counselor. He said to me, “Remember, nothing is wasted.” That has always stuck with me.
The reality is that God wastes nothing. While God does not do evil, he uses all things to bring glory to himself, to draw people to Jesus, and to bring deeper purpose and meaning to the Christian’s life. As I continue to reflect on this truth, I have realized that Paul’s statement in Romans 8:28 is not only true, but also life-giving. God really is able to use all things for good, for those called according to his purpose.
God Can Use the Horrific
This has been true in my life as well as in the lives of those around me. Even the most tragic, horrible, and sinful things have been used to open doors with the lost, to connect with those who are hurting, and to point people to Jesus.
For instance, I was in a car crash when I was 17 that resulted in the death of a friend. It was through that tragedy that I was led to the truth of Jesus Christ. God has used that horrific time as a way for people to be connected with Jesus through the sharing of God’s story through mine. I also know of people who have taken the abuse they’ve endured, and allowed Jesus to use it to help them connect with abuse victims and to point them to Jesus.
Paul writes that God uses all things to work together for good. He can and will use your past, your horrific sin, and whatever else you believe is beyond the grace of Jesus. Living in the guilt of our past inhibits us from living in the freedom and purpose of our future together in Christ.
In Ephesians 2:10, Paul writes, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Therefore, we are able to receive the transforming grace of Jesus, learn from our past, and trust that not only does he use all things for good, but we are now his workmanship, commissioned for good works that he has set beforehand.
5 Things to Remember
Here are a few helpful things to remember moving forward.
1. Acknowledge Jesus
Jesus is the only hope you have to experience redemption. This holds true for all aspects of your healing and ministry, not just salvation.
2. Your Story Is His Story in You
When you share your story, the focus should be how Jesus has rescued you. Your experiences are the illustrations that point back to him.
3. Don’t Glorify Your Former Sin
Glorify the one who forgave it. It is tempting when you are trying to establish rapport to make light of your sin, or to make it sound glorious. This temptation should be avoided. The purpose in sharing your story should be connecting with people, and then pointing them to Jesus, not connecting them to you and leaving them there.
4. You May Need Help Getting to the Good
There are situations and circumstances that are difficult to find healing and redemption in on your own. You may be helped through your community of faith, a biblical counselor, or a combination of both. There is no shame in needing some help.
5. You Are Not Alone
It is very likely that you are not the only one to have experienced what you have in your past. There are others who have been through something similar and your experience with Christ might be what God uses to draw that person to himself.
This is not a call to forget your past. It is an opportunity to allow Jesus to redeem it and use it for his glory and for your enjoyment. Your life can and should be used as an illustration for those who will believe (1 Tim. 1:15–16). This can be a very slow and hard road, but wherever you are on this journey just know, nothing is wasted.