Romans 8:28English Standard Version (ESV)
28 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 has special meaning to me. Approximately half a year went by between the time I said a prayer asking God to make my heart right and going to prison. When the detectives came to my home six hours after I had said that prayer, I knew even though a lot of people just believed it was the criminal justice system doing it’s job, I knew it was God answering my prayer. It’s easy to feel God is present in your life and it’s easy to believe God is good when things are going smoothly, you feel blessed. Sometimes it’s not so easy when things aren’t going well, like right now when I’ve been sick for three weeks and I’m sore from coughing and on many nights can’t sleep. But all the time everything was happening, I was being evaluated, many court appearances Romans 8:28 kept appearing in every conceivable venue. I’d catch part of it in a normal television show, hear it on the radio, randomly open a Bible and land right on that page, and in prison it kept showing up.
But I know now the truth of this verse, it is one of the most literal verses in the Bible and absolutely true. If you love God, and you allowed yourself to be called according to his purpose, all things do work together for good, although sometimes it’s not always obvious, sometimes it’s quite counter-intuitive.
God taught me this in a situation when I was at Airway Heights, I was celled with someone I really wasn’t getting along with well. I snore, he was at times very intolerant, and he was also bipolar, so we’d go through phases where he’s decide to be up all night and of coarse that meant so would I, and other times he was just grumpy. The cell was also on the ground floor and it was very cold at night. They only gave us two of these airy cotton blankets that were mostly holes, and the cells on the ground floor were so cold you could see your breath. I spent many nights curled up shivering.
I prayed for relief from this situation. One day while I was taking a shower a buzzer sound went off. A contractor had recently been drilling holes through the cinder block walls to install something they called J-Pay, a station where you could load an mp3 player with music for a fee, or send e-mails for an exorbitant fee. The buzzer sounded the same as the drilling and so that’s what I thought it was.
A few seconds later an officer comes over and demands my ID. I give it to him, he chews me out for not responding to the fire alarm (I didn’t know that’s what it was). I figure I’m getting an infraction, something I had really been working hard to avoid.
Later I’m sitting at a table with some Christian friends, and someone had just read a passage out of the Bible about God upholding us with his righteous right hand. I see two guards heading my way and I knew they were coming for me, with handcuffs. They had written me up for disobeying a direct order from an officer. How not recognizing a fire alarm can be construed as that still eludes me. At any rate when I seen them coming for me, I said, “My righteous right hand my ass!”.
They hauled me off to solitary confinement for eight days which wasn’t a huge deal since I had spent the first two months of my incarceration there. I was more concerned that it was a major infraction and could have either prevented me from being transferred to Monroe which close to home so my family could visit, or take away good time (time off for good behaviour).
When I came back they had re-assigned my old bunk so I got a new cell, on the second floor where it was warm, with someone who as Christian, mentally stable, and not bothered by my snoring.
They had some sort of better living program there. Most of the inmates either didn’t participate or participated minimally. I participated fully, not because I expected to get any favours for it but because I knew I was on a journey that was an answer to a prayer and I didn’t want to impede whatever God was going to do with me. I was the first one to level up, and as a reward for that they allowed me to choose where I wanted to go. I asked to go to Monroe, and within a couple of weeks I was there. Got to see my family for the first time in a year. When it came time for release, the infraction did not affect my release date.
So what I thought was an unjust thing, and to be sure on the part of the staff it was unjust, never the less, God used it towards my good. Through this whole experience God took away an overwhelming anxiety problem that had ruled all of my adult life up until that point. I am no longer on any psych meds, haven’t been since April of 2010, and no longer suffering any anxiety issue.
Sometimes I can be distracted still, the first time God had to throw me into solitary for a couple of months to eliminate distractions so I’d listen to him, now I try to do better but whenever I see Romans 8:28 come up, I know it’s God saying to me, hey, I’ve got something for you here, pay attention! And I know God is good, ALL THE TIME! I don’t know what possible good this sickness can serve, maybe just taking my voice away gave some people around me an ear rest, but I am sure it will be used for some good.