Romans 8: 28 might mean something like this in Uganda.
Two friends were working out in the forest, cutting wood, when the ax slipped and one cut a finger off the other one’s hand. The injured man was a bit offended when his friend didn’t seem very concerned about chopping off his finger; he only said, “There’s a reason why you lost your finger.”
Then they were walking home when the uninjured man fell into a pit with his wood. The wood covered the pit where he became buried under it. His friend was smug about it, saying, “You cut off my finger, and now God is paying you back.” He refused to help his friend out of the pit and went on his way, saying, “There’s a reason you fell in this pit.”
Then this man ran into 2 witchdoctors who then kidnapped him, planning to do a human sacrifice. However, when a sacrifice is to be done, the victim must be physically perfect. But because this man had shed blood by losing his finger, the witchdoctors let him go, cursing themselves for getting a defective man. On their way down the road, they passed the other man who’d fallen into the pit. They didn’t see him because he was covered with the wood.
The injured man realized that there truly had been a reason for his finger getting chopped off. Without that wound, he would’ve been sacrificed on the witchdoctors’ altar. So he went back to his friend in the pit and helped him out, telling him what had happened. The friend also rejoiced that there had been a reason he’d fallen in the pit, because he had been a “perfect” man that the witchdoctors would have taken for their sacrifice had they seen him along the road.
The story teller thus told us graphically how God has a reason for everything that happens to us. What may appear to be something bad or tragic will often prove out to be in our best interests.
We had another wedding at New Life Centre recently, the second of two weddings in one month. Churches here are often very competitive and pastors may exhibit jealousy, so it was not surprising when one village pastor tried to prevent the wedding by telling lies about the bride and groom. When that didn’t work, he used gossip channels to get the word around that there had been no “introduction” of the bride, the local way of paying a dowry. No one had ever had a wedding without an introduction, and it seems it was even illegal to do so.
What was not commonly known however was that the introduction had been cancelled because of a death. A funeral takes precedence over any other event. The bride’s father wrote a letter, permitting his daughter to get married without the introduction. So when some members of another village church showed up, hoping to see the police come and make arrests, they were disappointed. Another village pastor called the groom and offered his church for the wedding, feeling it was a nicer church than New Life Centre, but the groom refused.
As with the first wedding, the groom was a pastor. Being another very poor village man, he had no money with which to have either an introduction or a wedding. God had taken care of the problem of the introduction, but now there was the expense of a wedding that everyone knew could host hundreds of people. He ran out of money even before the wedding cake was purchased, 2 days before the wedding! But as with the first pastor’s wedding, he and his bride had refused to use traditional methods to raise money from other people, and had chosen to trust God to provide.
A village businesswoman, who was a member of our 4-church prayer group, provided much of the funds for the wedding, having saved her money. The churches themselves pulled together to provide food for the reception. The bride’s gown was rented, as well as for her attendants, saving much money. The neighborhood was searched for small girls to attend the bride, and rented dresses put on them.
Two women accepted Jesus as their Savior during the wedding, for which the bride had prayed. The people who’d spied on the wedding, expecting to see police raiding it, were shamed and took good stories back to their village. The pastor who’d offered his church later called the groom and apologized for being out of line. The Lord provided and the wedding cake was bought at 7 pm after the wedding at 6 pm!
So when people are willing to trust God in all things, whether in big events like weddings, or in daily events such as cutting wood or suffering injuries, they find that He will never let them down. It’s more likely that we let Him down with our lack of faith.
Whoever heard of buying a wedding cake after the wedding ceremony?