As far back as I can remember, I've heard Romans 8:28 quoted with cliche-like repetition: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." I'm certain that I memorized it long ago for one Sunday School class assignment or another, but only recently have I come to better understand the full meaning of this Scripture passage.
This new life lesson began last November when the onset of my third documented kidney infection brought with it an intense fatigue that far outlasted the 10-day course of antibiotics. For a while, I simply tried to wait it out, convinced that, soon enough, it would dissipate.
From last December through this past March, I visited several doctors in an attempt to feel better, backing out of other engagements along the way because I was just too wiped to get out of the house. It wasn't terribly fun, but I was grateful that it was only fatigue and nothing worse.
As it turned out, the fatigue was the result of a vitamin D deficiency combined with a strained muscle in my back (probably triggered by the infection). Neither was serious, but the combined symptoms made for a long winter.
At first, I had no idea what I should be learning from this minor trial. Before we'd reached a diagnosis, though, I started reading about a whole-foods lifestyle and began incorporating some of the recommended eating habits in an effort to feel better. Jon graciously went along with my odd and sometimes unpalatable kitchen creations, which says a lot since he's a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy.
The new diet didn't seem to do much for my health, but the surprising result was that Jon felt a lot better. He seemed to have more energy, fewer headaches, and fewer upset stomachs (all things we wrongly assumed were just normal for him). In the end, we concluded that he is either wheat or gluten intolerant (and I don't even know if there's really a difference between the two), and that by eliminating wheat, he feels great.
And suddenly I knew what I needed to learn from my health woes: God certainly does work ALL things together for our good and His glory.
Is intense fatigue fun? No.
Was it easy feeling lousy for four months? Not at all.
Could God turn it into a blessing? Absolutely.
Did He? Yes!
Had I not gotten sick, we'd never have thought to start altering our eating habits. Jon would have continued eating wheat and dealing with the symptoms that he'd had most of his life because we wouldn't have figured out that they were food-related. And especially now that I'm feeling better and having more energy, I can be thankful for the vitamin deficiency and strained muscle. What started out as an annoyingly-frustrating "curse" eventually proved to be a blessing in disguise.
Not all problems will resolve into blessings so easily, nor will we always be able to see the blessing in the curse this side of Heaven. But in situations like mine where we can clearly see the truth in Romans 8:28, we can be grateful that the Lord really is doing what He promises to do, and we can be confident that He's also working in the situations where we cannot see His handiwork as vividly.