As I have reviewed some of the lovely notes and cards we received during 2009 – including many Christmas letters but also including many notes of condolence to us over the deaths of Marsha’s mother and father last year – I found one that speaks to me especially well. The card simply says:

“It will be OK when it is over.

If it’s not OK, then it’s not over.”

I like the sentiment of that card. It acknowledges that there are many times in life when it truly is “not OK.” Tough times come along, like loss of a loved one, family problems, personal injury and illness, or issues at work. Sometimes we try to cover up such tough times by saying, “I’m OK.” The truth would be expressed better by saying, “I’m not OK, but I will be.”

I like the card because it reminds me that it will be OK later. God has a way of working slowly and persistently in our lives to make things OK. That process may come through friends who support and care for us. Or it may continue through a book, movie, verse of scripture, or a card expressing condolence. It may not feel OK right now, but the promise is that it will be OK later – after God has a chance to work in our lives.

I think that is what is meant by the scripture in Romans 8 which says that “God works in all things for good.” That does not mean that all things are good, but it does mean that God will work in the midst of all things – even those “not OK” things – to make something good emerge. It may not be OK now, but it will be later if we give God time to do God’s work.

I also think that truth is expressed in a simple football statistic which I saw recently. Of all the statistics they measure in football, the one statistic which has absolutely no bearing on the final outcome of a football game is the half-time score. It has no statistical significance at all! 50% of the time the team leading at halftime wins the game, and 50% of the time the team trailing at halftime wins the game. The halftime score is utterly insignificant in terms of predicting the final score. Surely the Indianapolis Colts are proof of that! How many games have they trailed at halftime (like this past Sunday against the Jets) but come back to win?

That football statistic is a good reminder about life. The halftime score, the way we feel right now, the sense of “not OK” we have today is no indication of how God will work through this tough time. Who knows what God will do with the second half?

So … remember that promise … “It will be OK when it is finished. If it’s not OK, then it isn’t finished.” God will continue to act, love, forgive, move, reassure, and heal. It may not be OK right now, but it will be OK when God is finished.