Thinking of Gamzu: Andrew Schroer
by Pastor Andrew Schroer, Redeemer Lutheran Church Edna, Texas
I can’t get his name out of my mind. Last week, a friend – a fellow pastor – taught me the name. You see, my friend had just flown from San Diego to Austin. It was late at night. He was tired and ready to get home. When he got to his car, however, he found he had a flat tire.
And that’s when he remembered the name: Gamzu. Actually, the man’s full name was Nachum Ish Gamzu, but history remembers him simply by his nickname “Gamzu.”
Gamzu was a Jewish rabbi from the first century. He gained his nickname from his favourite saying. Ever the optimist, whenever anything bad happened to Gamzu (which in his case was often), he would say, “Gam zu le-tovah,” which in Hebrew means, “This, too, is for the good.”
When he found his flat tire, my friend said, “Gamzu.” Though the flat caused a momentary frustration, he knew God had a good reason for it happening. It may have been to slow him down in order to avoid an accident on the highway or to teach him patience or to bring about some other good which we could not see this side of heaven. Whatever the reason, he knew this, too, was for the good.
Another first-century rabbi (turned Christian missionary) wrote something similar. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28).
“In all things.” Everything that happens to you happens for a reason. Everything that happens to you is for your good. When you fall off the ladder, you can say, “Gamzu – this, too, is for the good.” When your husband cheats on you, you can say, “Gamzu – this, too, is for the good.” When your mother dies of cancer, you can say, “Gamzu – this, too, is for the good.”
When tragedy strikes, we can say “Gamzu.” But that’s hard.
It is hard for us to say, “Gamzu” because like my friend’s flat tire, we often don’t see or can’t fully understand the good which comes from our mishaps and misfortunes. We can’t see the good which may still lie in the future or understand the positive effects our problems will have on others.
It’s hard for us to say, “Gamzu” because God’s plans are not always our plans. Though God promises us that our struggles and sicknesses are for the good, it’s still not what we necessarily wanted or planned for our lives.
To say “Gamzu” requires faith. It means trusting God and his will for our lives. It means remembering that we can’t see what God sees or know what he knows. It means keeping our eyes and hearts focused firmly on his love for us.
Remember, this is the God who loved us so much he sacrificed his only Son for us. This is the God who forgives us and gives us heaven. This is the God who sees all of time and history – the God who created all things and will one day destroy this world with fire.
That God promises you that everything which happens in your life will work together for your good. Trust him. Trust his promise. Like Gamzu, be the perennial optimist.
When you have a flat tire when the doctor tells you it’s cancer, when your boyfriend breaks up with you, smile and say, “Gamzu.”
This, too, is for the good.