Most of my thoughts this week have hovered around the themes of suffering and loss…and God’s faithfulness in the midst. It occurs to me that three of the green pastures I have fled to (and pointed others to) most often, have contained the same set of two words: “all things”. God works "all things" for good (Romans 8.28); "Will He not ... freely give us all things?" (Romans 8.32); Jesus "upholds all things by the word of His power" (Hebrews 1.3). It got me thinking: ‘What a wonderful pair of words…so broad in their description of God’s mercy and power. I wonder how often they are found together like this in the whole Bible.’ Well, what I found is that my NASB contains 141 instances of that phrase “all things”…most all of them teaching powerful theology. Here are a few of them (scriptural quotes in italics)…and how they have encouraged me this week:
The person and power of Jesus
· All things came into being through Him (John 1.3).
· The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand (John 3.35)…and this past week, the Father delicately delivered our friend Amber forever into the Son’s hand.
· When that One comes, He will declare all things to us (John 4.25)…Yes, there is an answer for why we suffer, and Jesus will someday make it plain.
· Through Him to reconcile all things to Himself (Colossians 1.20)…Here is the great hope in death: Jesus has granted us reconciliation with God!
· Christ upholds all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1.3)…Jesus is actively upholding Anthony, his children, their financial stability, the Donovan family, and the future of Pastor’s Training Institute just as powerfully as when He spoke the universe into being.
· Therefore He had to be made like His brethren in all things (Hebrews 2.17)…Wow! Though most of us really have no clue, the Lord Jesus knows exactly what our friends (and all other grieving hearts) are enduring. He sympathizes with our weakness.
· Behold, I make all things new (Revelation 21.5)…including, one day, lifeless bodies.
The power and mercy of God the Father
· With God all things are possible (Matthew 19.26).
· God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8.28)…even the hardest things. Events may not themselves be good (and last week’s weren’t) but God designs even the horrific for the final good of His lambs. The cross proves that, and Amber knows it better than us all today. Her family is learning it, too, though much more slowly.
· He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? (Romans 8.32)…If God would give His very Son (His Son!) to Anthony, Ellie, Isaac, Laura, Mitch, April, and Nathan , why would He withhold anything else that they need? And why would He withhold anything that you need?
· Who works all things after the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1.11)…No matter what the news reports as happening on Hwy 51, there are no accidents. God’s blood-bought children are far too precious to Him to leave their lives and deaths to fate (see Ps 116.15).
The response and hope of the believer
· All things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive (Matthew 21.22)…Would you make sure you are praying for the Mathenias? God loves to answer believing prayer!
· All those who had believed were together and had all things in common (Acts 2.44)…O, that this apostolic generosity and love would be manifest today as believers encourage and liberally support the Mathenia family and others like them!
· Giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus (Ephesians 5.20)…It is possible, even in this. Do it! By God’s grace, do it!
· I can do all things through Him who gives me strength (Philippians 4.13)…Normally we use this verse tritely. It is not about scoring more touchdowns. But it is worth its weight in gold in the darkest hour. Cling to Jesus and see if He is not true.
One more verse to sum up. Seeing the mass of truth and hope and encouragement assembled around the phrase “all things”, I want to be able to say…and I want you to be able to say…and I pray my friend will continue to say of this Jesus (as he did so wonderfully this past weekend): Even in the darkest hour, He does all things well (Mark 7.37).