Looking for the Good

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (Romans 8: 26 – 30 NIV)

Below are two excerpts from an MSN news account I have copied from the internet:

This first excerpt shows how the publicity of the death of the hostage Kayla Jean Mueller will be a central argument in the US discussion of whether or not to “put boots on the ground” in attempting to fight the Islamic State:

"The news came after the death of an American in IS' hands and as the White House has sought to push a widely anticipated request by President Barack Obama for legislation approving the use of US military force against the group. On Tuesday, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and counsel Neil Eggleston met with Senate Democrats as Obama prepared to formally unveil his proposed authorization.

Obama announced that Kayla Jean Mueller, an aid worker captured while leaving a Doctors Without Borders center in Aleppo and held hostage by IS, died during her imprisonment. "No matter how long it takes, the United States will find and bring to justice the terrorists who are responsible for Kayla's captivity and death," Obama said in a statement released Tuesday."

This second excerpt shows how Kayla was able to hold on to her faith and find the good in her situation:

"During her captivity, the Mueller, 26, took strength in her faith and her family's love, she wrote in a letter released on Tuesday. The 26-year old humanitarian aid worker had an unquenchable passion to help others and said that service brought her closer to God.

"I have been shown in darkness, light + have learned that even in prison, one can be free," the Arizonan wrote in the letter, smuggled out by captives and received by her relatives in early 2014. "I have come to see that there is good in every situation, sometimes we just have to look for it," she added.

Mueller described her prison as "a safe location," calling herself "completely unharmed + healthy (put on weight in fact)." She revealed doubts, but also resolve as she summoned the will to keep going."

The passage of scripture from Romans that I have quoted above includes Romans 8: 28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” The context in which we find this verse is very important. Ahead of it is the thought that we do not always know how to pray. Given this situation it must indeed be true that we do not know how to pray. First, the question arises of using the death of a humanitarian seeking peace and the welfare of all, regardless of creed or race, in favor of the argument to go to war. Second, my heart is deeply moved by the faith of Kayla and my faith is stimulated to confirm the truth of Romans 8: 28.

The context of Romans 8: 28 goes on to bring the thought that in all the turmoil of not knowing how to pray; in holding on to the truth that God is working all things together for the good of His purpose; and that God is ultimately in control and is sovereign; it is revealed that God’s ultimate purpose is to conform us to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Love can be very difficult to see. In the situation of the death of Kayla Jean Mueller we can see that her life seemed to be guided by love. It seems very obvious to me that she was in the process of being transformed into the image of Christ. I would go so far as to say, in fact, that she had been transformed into the image of Christ and was in the process of living out that transformation on the earth.

At this point we could easily say that she had been called, chosen, justified, and glorified. But I would like to point out that the part of this process of moving into glorification did not happen as the result of her death. Kayla had already been glorified by God for the life she lived. She had learned the art of allowing God to work in her spirit by the power of the Holy Spirit so that she could follow God into those situations where she could best represent God on earth.