I’ve heard this verse one thousand times and never really truly understood it. I accepted it as truth simply because it’s God’s Word. Infallible. Always true. I’ve even quoted it to people going through a tough time to remind them to hope in the Lord. God’s got this, right?
It wasn’t until I experienced my own hardship that I really started to understand this verse completely. A dangerous tumor in a really bad place. Only operable if they removed my larynx and took my vocal cords. To one who is called to teach God’s Word this was devastating news.
How on earth, Lord, are you going to work this out for good?
My husband and many loved ones around me dug in for almost 2 years trusting and praying for healing. Knowing it was something already provided. Knowing it is always God’s will to heal. Knowing that God wanted me well. “By His stripes I have been healed.” (Isaiah 53:5 & 1 Peter 2:24). Past tense. Everything I needed for healing was provided on the cross. We waited for 2 years until finally the tumor grew to a place where it literally could suffocate me at any moment. Doctors were recommending an emergency tracheotomy.
I went to the Abby of Gethsemane and prayerfully sought what to do next. Finally, it came down to the fact that God wanted me well. He was either going to supernaturally reach down and remove this tumor or the doctor was going to do it. Either way. Death was at my door step and it needed to go.
In the months after the surgery, I cried out “why” to the Lord more times than I can count. We were hopeful that the doctor would be able to remove the tumor and the Lord would restore the vocal cords. It didn’t turn out that way. My entire larynx was removed. My two pipes separated. I now breathe from my neck making my nose simply ornamental. And my esophagus was surgically re-done. I learned how to breathe and swallow again pretty quickly. However, learning to speak again has been much more of a challenge.
I know my calling. I know my passions. I know my purpose. All of them use my voice. How could God have let something take my voice away? How on earth is God going to work this out for good?
I recently read Dutch Sheet’s book called The Power Of Hope. I can honestly say over the last few months I have experienced “hope deferred”. Learning how to manage the “new normal” has been a lot to handle. All dreams I once dreamt are gone and I am figuring out what new dreams the Lord wants me to dream.
This book has been helpful. If you’ve experienced loss of any kind, I highly recommend picking up a copy and going through it. Find hope again.
Dutch teaches on Romans 8:28 in this book unlike I’ve ever heard it. I love when people can bring meaning out of the original language. It made me stop in my tracks and dig in a little deeper with the Holy Spirit as my guide. Here’s what I learned.
The phrase “work together” doesn’t just mean God is going to work things out for us. The phrase comes from the greek work “synergeo”. It’s where we get our English word synergy. Sun in greek means “together” and ergon means “work”. So somewhere in the mid 18th century the word “synergy” was born from these two greek works meaning “work together.”
According to the dictionary, synergy means “the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.” So when two things “synergies, they work together with the end result being an outcome that is greater than you could have had if either party was working on their own.
According to an online lexicon I read, there are two possible meanings to the Greek word synergeo. First it is “to work together, help in work, be partner in labour.” But there is also a second meaning which is “to put forth power with or thereby to assist.”
I used to read this verse very passively thinking, “Okay. I’ll sit back and endure this hard ship and God will somehow turn it into something good.” Like Joseph in Genesis 50:20 where he tells his brothers he forgives them and God meant their evil for good. All I have to do is “grin and bear it” and take comfort knowing that God’s going to do something with it.
However, now I see a dynamic power in this verse that I’ve never seen before. Yes. God is working with me in it. God is partnering with me in the labor. He is helping me as I work through the hardship. But the second meaning brings so much more!
He’s not just partnering with me. Nor is He just doing it for me. Instead, He is putting forth his POWER around and through me. Together as I allow Him to work in me, the Lord’s POWER is changing me. I dare say through hardships I experience God’s power unlike I could without that hardship. Maybe this is why the Apostle Paul says so many times in his letters to the church that we should rejoice in our hardships. Without them, we will never experience God’s power like we do when we synergize with him during hardship.
Dutch Sheets says, “Synergism is the ‘working together of two or more drugs, muscles or etc, to produce an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects.’ In choosing this word, God is promising He will take all of the bad, all of the pain, and every attempt of the enemy to destroy your faith –“all things”– and then mix in Himself, infusing these evils with His miraculous power. ‘I will synergies with them’, He says, ‘and the good in Me will overpower the bad in them.’ Amazing!”
So when I go through hardships, I really can rejoice. Because it’s in that hardship that God is unleashing his power over and in me. He is synergizing resulting in a creation that could not have been if the two things didn’t work together. And I am so much better off for it.
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