And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him… (Romans 8:28)
Recently, my daughters began a study of hope in their church kids’ club, and Romans 8:28 was the first memory verse. So we took a few minutes to discuss its meaning.
As I wracked my brain for a way to concretely explain to my six- and seven-year olds how God takes bad things and uses them for good, He brought to my mind a very “interesting” image: cow poop. And I instantly knew how to make the application:
“Girls, imagine a freshly tilled farm field in the spring. Now picture a farmer spreading cow poop all over the soil.”
“That would be fertilizer!” one of them said.
“Yep, you’re right. Now imagine that cow poop. Does it smell good?”
Both girls wrinkled up their noses.
“Does it look good? Or feel good to touch?”
“Would it sound good if we squelched around in it?”
“Okay. Would it…taste good?”
“Exactly. That cow poop is awful, isn’t it? Ugly and smelly. It’s just a natural thing for the cows to make, but it’s gross for us to think about.
“Now picture a beautiful field of…gigantic sunflowers covered with petals as bright as sunlight. They’re swaying in the breeze, lifting their faces to God. How did they get there? How’d the plants grow?”
“They needed the cow poop!”
“Exactly. A farmer puts fertilizer on the field to nourish the soil so it can grow better plants. And then something good comes from… the cow poop. God uses cow poop to make something wonderful. And just like that, God uses bad things in our lives to grow beautiful things.
“So next time you’re having a really bad day, remember the beautiful sunflowers in the farmer’s field. Romans 8:28 promises that God will take the ‘cow poop’ of that situation and turn it beautiful – for you and others to enjoy.
“Now, do plants pop up over night after the farmer spreads the fertilizer? No, it takes time. Just like that, we don’t usually see right away the good things God has in store to grow up from a bad thing. But a promise is a promise. God doesn’t say, ‘Well, maybe I’ll use those bad times.’ The verse says we know He does it. So in a bad situation, picture the plants in the field and use that image to give you hope and faith.”
The girls nodded in understanding. Then we wrapped up our devotional time, and they went to do their morning chores. And I just smiled to myself at the absurdity of the example I’d just detailed. So earthy – and certainly not my usual style. But, nonetheless, a perfect object lesson of Romans 8:28.