Posted by: Philip Rushton | September 17, 2010

God Intends to Use This For Good: Reflections on a Year of Waiting

Here is a preview of an article that will show up in the LCC newsletter. Thought I’d throw it out there for discussion.

Many of you have probably heard by now that our immigration process finally has an end in sight! While our case was completed in May, we ended up having to wait five months for our final interview to be scheduled. This was an unexpected wait to say the least. Visa applicants whose cases were completed in the weeks before us, got interviews in about 2 months. We petitioned Senators and engaged lawyers, but in the end we just had to wait our turn. So, it was with great relief that we received my official interview letter on September 15.

Our final interview is scheduled for Oct. 26 at 9 am at the US consulate in Montreal. We would appreciate your prayers for this interview. At the interview we will get the final “stamp of approval” and then we will receive my visa in the mail within the week. So, our estimated time of arrival will be the first week of November.

We want to thank you as a church for your patience and support through this difficult journey. I especially want to thank Pastor John for his constant encouragement and support. Though he has probably been implicated the most by these delays, he has maintained a hopeful outlook and a servant’s heart.

To be honest, this year has been confusing for us. Throughout this year I have maintained a true sense of calling to LCC, and yet there has been so much resistance to us getting here. The number of problems we have had with this immigration process have been unprecedented. One visa had to be withdrawn over a technicality about LCC’s IRS status, another visa was approved, but the Department of State canceled the visa class before we could benefit from it. Then, when we were waiting for my Green Card, the visa center made a mailing error and our lawyer filled out one section of our application wrong, costing us 2 more months. All of these things have caused me to ask why God has allowed this all to happen.

One of the things I have learned this year is that set backs and hardship are a central part of biblical spirituality. Time and time again we see that God leads his people through times of testing. The scripture does not always explain why hard times persistently come our way. They do, however, remind us that God is able to use hardships for good purposes.

The last major narrative of Genesis is about Joseph. God gives Joseph a dream that he will be a great ruler; yet, the immediate years that follow this dream result in abandonment, slavery, and imprisonment. At the end of the story, when Joseph’s brothers ask for forgiveness, he says these words: “You have intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” While Joseph is honest that his pain was caused by the sin of his brothers, he also recognizes that God worked out his purposes despite this wrongdoing. God was somehow able to use these difficult situations to place Joseph where he wanted him to be.

I am hopeful that as we look back on this year we will not see it as wasted time. While these set backs have been frustrating and confusing, I believe that God has been using this time to prepare us for the future here in Longview. Personally, I have been challenged to develop a stronger faith, a deeper patience and a more authentic empathy for others. So it is with gratitude that I praise God for a year of testing and shaping. I look forward to seeing how he will use these experiences to accomplish what he desires here in Longview.


  1. The Joseph story is one that quiets my restless soul. I hate the “in between”time when the bad things are coming down. But that line, “what you meant for evil, God used for good”. (not quoted correctly) , ia a great comfort. I don’t see the good in the cancer that keeps happening to our family, My first wife died, two daughters now fighting it. But God can bring something good out of this evil.

  2. Hi Gil,

    Thanks for your thoughts. It’s humbling to hear you wrestle with this text in light of such a tragic thing as cancer and death. In comparison to what you’ve faced it makes my grumbling over a year of waiting seem unwarranted.

    I’m glad you find comfort in this text. I also find comfort in the fact that God is not the cause of suffering in this story but is rather the choreographer who uses the hard things that come from the evil brothers for a good purpose. That is an important distinction I think.

    • M. L’Engle make an unusual statement in talking about her husband’s cancer and finally his death.
      she said it was sin……………not his, he loved God. The sin of pollution, greed, wasteful earth practices, etc. The wages of sin…………..death. We just never know the time frame.

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