"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 (Romans 8:28).
The smudges of doubt and discouragement were easy to see. His young life had been one filled to the brim with hopes and hurts, dreams and defeats, and longings and leavings. A heart starved for love, acceptance, and purpose, he was a young man that hungered to know that someone noticed, and that someone really cared. In and out of trouble, he was no stranger to conflict. With his home life in shambles and self-esteem on the rocks, the only thing he could wonder is "why me?" Why did my mom have to die? Why does everything seem to happen to me? Why do I always mess up? Why am I such a failure? Why doesn't it feel as though I matter? What do I really have to offer?
As time passed by and "not-great" morphed into really bad, he found himself abandoned, without a home, and struggling to believe that his life held value. The one positive element in his life at the time was a friend who believed. It was a friend who saw past the facade. It was a friend who knew what it was like to be lost in the vice-grips of despair and find unfathomable redemption in the midst of it all. It was a friend who had seen himself as he was and had found a hope and faith in God who saw it all, and yet loved him still. This was a friend who shared that hope, the reason for that hope, and that Jesus IS that hope. It was a friend who was part of this broken young man's path to discovering the love and hope that is found in Christ.
Looking back is sometimes a fascinating adventure. You begin to see that when things appeared at their worst, that was the precise moment that God stepped in and worked a miracle. You begin to realize that though God is not the author of all of the hardships and heartaches you face, He is the One who authorizes them. He knows what it will take to get your attention so that you will begin to see His fingerprints on every facet of your life. God doesn't waste a bad situation, a broken relationship, hurts and pains, or mistakes and failures. He uses each one. The very reason Jesus went to the cross was to redeem that which was broken and lost.
This is how you can know in "all things" that God "works together." To "work together" is a Greek word that means to "partner" or to "work with." God takes all that you are, all that you've done, and all that you've been through. He then partners that with His perfect plan and will for your life. In the process, you begin to see the hurts healed, the loss of hope and purpose restored, failures forgiven, and His love received. Where smudges once marked you with defeat, His fingerprints now mark you as His own.
Go ahead. Look in the mirror. Look through the eyes of Jesus. You will start to see all of the fingerprints of His love, His grace, and His second chances all over your life. No, you may not yet be perfect, but if you will allow Him to have every part of who you are, you will see that His hands have been all over you. God is not through in you. Don't give up. He hasn't.