The platypus makes no sense. It breaks so many “rules” that scientists first thought it was a hoax. The “so ugly, it’s cute” mammal lays eggs, has the fur of an otter, the tail of a beaver, and the nose of a duck. It’s feet are webbed but the webs give way to claws when it comes out of the water and runs on land. A male platypus has venomous barbs on it’s back feet (find more information here) . All of it’s parts put together defy logic, it’s kind of like Frankenstein’s monster. Yet, the platypus is one of God’s creations. It was declared, “good” by God as every other creation was.
I have often struggled with Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who him, who have been called according to his purposes.” In difficult times, this verse made no sense to me:
- When my kids were hurt by the sins of others, how could anything be good enough to justify their pain?
- When myself and others are diagnosed with chronic illnesses, what good can come from chronic pain or disability?
- When people we love die or face a terminal illness, how can the loss of a life ever become something good?
- When relationships are lost through divorce or when life doesn’t look like what we thought it would, why do bad things happen to good people?
If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that life doesn’t always make sense. And trying to find the logic around events whether good or bad, is an exercise in futility. Like the scientists who first discovered the platypus, I want to believe that the difficulties faced by myself and my loved ones are hoaxes. But they are not, they are as real as the platypus.
As I’ve pondered Romans 8:28 over the years, I’ve discovered that to me the point of the verse isn’t about turning everything into something good. God’s promise isn’t to change bad things into good or remove all bad things from our lives. Rather, He promises that his work is for the good of those He loves. Once again, I’m reminded that God is with me in the midst of the bad. In fact, He is not only with me but He is doing good things all around me. This is God’s redeeming work in the world, the same work that during creation turned chaos into the platypus. The same work that transforms the ugliness of Jesus’ death on the cross into the joy of resurrection. The same work that continues to redeem the fallen, the brokenhearted, and the powerless. The same work that never gives up on me or you.
I no longer argue with Romans 8:28, rather I praise the God who continues His redeeming work in my life and the lives of all his creation. The platypus is not a hoax, the platypus is a promise for all of us.