When God Says No: Applying Romans 8:28 to Relationships

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  • When God Says No: Applying Romans 8:28 to Relationships

I met Lynna during my freshman year in college. We became friends and began to spend time together. We liked each other. I asked her on a date the next year. She said yes.

Before the date happened, I had a strong sense from God that I didn’t need to be in a serious relationship at that time. I can’t fully explain it. It was a thought God put in my mind that I knew I didn’t put there. My emotions were already starting to move towards overdrive when I thought about her. We had a great first date. As I dropped her off I said, “Hey, I don’t really think I need to get into a committed relationship right now.” She said, “Then what are we doing?” She was right. I started to back off in the time I was spending with her.

She was a senior. It made sense for her to be dating at that point, and there were other interested guys. Stepping away from her was one of the hardest things I had ever done. I would see her talking to another guy and become angry. I would go to my room and pray, and all I could think about was her. I was smitten, some might say obsessive.

A Reminder that He Is Good

I started getting alone and pouring out my heart to God about this. The verse I meditated on was Romans 8:28. It is one of the most powerful promises in the Bible. God promises to make everything, even the worst and hardest things, work together in the long run to bless His people.

God so loves those that He has saved that He guarantees to make everything in life conspire together to work out for our best. He is powerful enough and wise enough to orchestrate every single circumstance of life for the good of His people. Do you believe that?

I said I believed it, but the worry, fear, and anger in my heart said otherwise. I probably spent six days a week for a month meditating on that verse, trying to apply it to my situation. I was mentally and emotionally wrestling with God. My mind trusted Him, but my heart seemed to lag behind.

One day a thought dawned on me like a ray of light and hope. Based on my finite human understanding, I felt sure I did not have the gift of singleness. I felt very confident God would provide a wife for me one day when the time was right.

Can You Trust God to Do What Is Best?

Furthermore, as best as I could tell, Lynna was the best girl for me. But to be objective, there were literally millions of other possibilities on planet earth whom I had not met. I was twenty years old. What did I know? The hope, joy, and rest came with this thought: “God will either bring Lynna back into my life at a different time or He will bring me someone better because He promises to do what’s best for me.” This was my best understanding of how Romans 8:28 applied to my dilemma.

Through praying, meditating and wrestling with God, He took a truth and personalized it for me. Truth about God’s goodness, wisdom and power moved from my mind and deeper into my heart and soul. It began to change me. Where anger, fear, and worry had been reigning, there came a sweet sense of rest. Joy started to bubble up in hope. The peace that passes all understanding became like a fortress around my soul. It was truly life-changing.

Over the next few months, I maybe spoke to Lynna once and rarely thought of her. God had invaded my life in a new way with His promise and character. It made it fairly easy to surrender Lynna to God. She wasn’t mine. I had no claim on her. Later that year we actually started to talk again and considered dating again. This time she said she needed more time to focus on her walk with Christ. At first, it felt like a dagger. But I was very quickly able to get back to a place of resting in God’s promise to do what was best for me.

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Another Chance for Love

Again we went months without seeing each other or talking. Then we started talking. Both of us sensed from the Lord that the timing was right to date. Things went fairly quickly from there. Within months, we were doing pre-engagement counseling and considering marriage. Not long after, we were engaged. The next year we were married.

I don’t share this to say every Christian will get married if they pray about Romans 8:28. This isn’t what it promises. Instead, my goal is to help all of us get our eyes off of ourselves and our circumstances (whether that be hardships in dating or in any area of life) and back onto Christ in a deeper fashion.

Romans 8:28 teaches that the one true God who creates and rules all has infinite power, infinite wisdom, and is infinitely loving to His people. With those attributes, He controls every molecule of matter and every nanosecond of time to work all things together for the good of His people. Do you feel the weightiness of that reality in your soul? It will free you from any doubt, fear, or worry when you do.

God’s Wisdom Is Infinite

But what if you doubt those three attributes of God’s character? The key comes later in Romans 8:32. Look to the cross and remember. There you clearly see God’s wisdom. Who can imagine such a way to be just and the justifier? See His power raise Christ from the power of death and hell. See His love accomplish your salvation and thus guarantee all future blessings that are best for you. God literally took the worst event of all time and made it the greatest. If He did it on such a large scale, surely He can and will do it in your life.

Copyright (c) 2019 Olan Stubbs, used with permission.

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