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For Evil or for Good?

Yesterday I talked about Joseph’s betrayal by those he thought were his family. He was able to forgive them and get on with his life by recognizing that while “they meant it for evil, God meant it for good.”

That was certainly my experience with the Methodist Church. While they would disagree that their rejection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people is evil, it certainly felt that way to me and the thousands of other people who have been rejected because of who they love. The Methodists certainly didn’t think they were blessing me, but God did. I ended up as the pastor of the Cathedral of Hope for almost two decades while it grew from 280 members to 4,000. More importantly, I got to be with that congregation through the AIDS crisis. Although that didn’t feel like a blessing. It certainly was an honor.

After the Methodists fired me I spent month in a deep funk. It felt like I had done something wrong, though, the truth is, I had not. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and, mostly, sad. I tried to be angry, indignant, and vengeful, but I was just sad. There was a deep grief that came from the loss of plans, dreams, relationships, identity. For months, it felt as though my life was over. Well, that happened in 1981, so my life obviously didn’t end. And neither will yours.

Since then, there have been other betrayals in my life, and, every time, I am tempted to never open my life or heart or gifts to anyone ever again. The one thing that has changed is my recovery time. You see, from the Methodists’ betrayal, I learned that, regardless of their intention, what really mattered was God’s. Oh, make no mistake: that doesn’t keep it from hurting, and it doesn’t reduce the amount of damage done.

If we can trust God, however, we can rise from the ashes and move toward the light and life. The option is to remain in our misery and wallow in it. That only lets the betrayal have power over you. Trusting God’s good will for your life empowers the good. Only then can that great promise from Romans 8:28 come true. Only then can God work all things together for your good.

Not all things are good, but, in God’s hands, they might just work out better than you dared to dream … if you can trust Life and move toward the light.

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