I have lately been reading through the Westminster Confession of Faith as a devotional. I realize that this is not how most people would see that particular document, Anyway, here is an example of the great comfort I draw from words written hundreds of years ago.
In Chapter 5, Section 7 it reads: “As the providence of God doth, in general, reach to all creatures; so, after a most special manner, it taketh care of his church, and disposeth all things to the good thereof.”
The modern English Version says: “As, in general, the providence of God reaches to all creatures, so, in a very special way, it cares for his church and disposes all things for its good.”
It is such a comfort to see scripture opened to me apart from the culture tinted lenses through which I read it. I have always viewed the promises in Romans 8:28, among other places, to be on an individual level. The Lord will work all things according to my personal good. The Westminster Divines, however, saw this as a corporate promise. The Lord, they propose, works all things together for our good.
I find this so encouraging! Why are we called to bear one another’s burdens? Because they are all working together for our good, and God’s glory. I have often fallen into the trap of believing that because someone else is struggling and I am not, that I am stronger and they are more in need of sanctification; you know, because God is working all this out for their good, right? Suddenly I see the folly in that. Their suffering is for our sanctification, corporately; possibly including my personal sanctification in the area of pride.
Yes, it is true that God is concerned with my personal growth in Christ-like-ness; but I am only a part of the body, only a brick in the temple. Yahweh is in the process of perfecting His bride, and that includes, but is not limited to, me. What a peace- filled adjustment in my perspective.