All things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose. That's what Romans 8:28 says. Quite a number of us must have heard or quoted this verse over time. We find it handy to fall back on, in times of tragedy, distress and despair. In life, we all have been victims of other people's cruelty and selfishness. Perhaps, some of us have been perpetrators too. However, I have seen an error under the sun and I will decry it with every fibre of my being.

Dear Abuser/Betrayer/ Manipulator/Perpetrator and what have you, it is NOT your place to quote that verse to the recipient of your betrayal, wrongdoing and abuse. Yes we know God is good, we know God is always several steps ahead of evil and goes ahead to redeem it, we know He gives beauty for ashes and we know how He turns things around. But it smacks of gross insensitivity and a feeble attempt at exculpation to throw that verse around, quote other Scriptures and quip all or some of those clichés highlighted above.

 It's just adding insult to injury, especially when the recipient of your actions is still reeling in the shock of and nursing wounds from your actions and trying to come to terms with it. It doesn't make it less abrasive or more acceptable, if it is quoted or thrown around, long after they have healed, if they ever do.

I can only imagine Joyce Meyer's father quoting Romans 8:28 to her. I can imagine him going further saying, "if I hadn't molested you whilst you were growing up, this ministry would not have been birthed. See your large congregation and audience. Why, you're even on international TV. Your mess has become a message". Is it just me or can anyone else hear just how ridiculous that sounds? Balderdash and baloney, if you ask me

It's akin to a drunk driver, saying that to the mother of the child he ran over. Perhaps the mother launched a campaign against drunk driving to create awareness and channeled her pain to an altruistic purpose. It's still not okay to say that to her face or as a justification for your carelessness. Or the killer armed robber who turns a new leaf and says that to his victims after they must have set up an NGO in honour of their deceased relative as a community development initiative. I could go on and on.

The first time I cringed upon hearing that verse was on the 22nd of October, 2006. Almost ten years ago, I still recall how much it stung and still does. It was at the one year memorial service for the victims of the Bellview Flight 210. It was a very hot Sunday afternoon and family and friends were gathered for the memorial service and the formal commissioning of the "Memorial Arcade", in Lisa village, Ogun State. The crash site had been cleared and tombstones were erected in honour of all 117 passengers. The then governor of Ogun State gave a speech and he had my attention until he said something along these lines-"This village has been in abject poverty. Bad roads, no pipe-borne water and a lack of other basic amenities .But since the plane crash a year ago, our administration has been working on providing these amenities for this community. Who says all things don't work together for good?"

I looked around me and not a few pair of eyes were dry. That moment, I was ashamed to be a Nigerian. Why wait for a tragic plane crash that left several people orphans, widows and widowers, to provide basic amenities to a community that voted you into power? Why?

I heard someone say somewhere that your abuser did you a favour, that abuse is a gift to you. A victim of abuse herself, that warped mindset was foisted on the belief that she had come out of that situation, stronger and wiser. I'm glad she eventually saw the danger and error of that thought pattern.

The fact that abuse may
trigger you to discover some things about yourself, when you choose to rise above it, doesn't make it acceptable. The fact that you survive it and come out the better for it doesn't justify it either. What about those who don't? What about those who end up severely depressed and even suicidal? Would abuse or betrayal be termed a gift then?

Let me reiterate it one last time. It is the 'victim's' place to quote and acknowledge that all things work together for good. It may take awhile for them to come to that place of understanding and acceptance. While they are it, please do not exacerbate the situation by quoting Romans 8:28. If they never do, don't begrudge them their right to their feelings and opinions. We all have different capacities and thresholds. What works for one may or may not work for another.

Finally, if you lack knowledge of Scripture and memory verses and feel the need, at every given opportunity, to quip Romans 8:28, especially as a means to justify your wrongdoing, consider memorizing Psalm 23:6. Meditate on this Scripture every now and then and it would become a part of you, so much so that you would hardly harbor any evil thoughts toward anyone anymore. You would be so good and it would translate to and permeate your actions and dealings with people and you would have no need to use Romans 8:28 as a buffer. The recipients of your actions would be able to recite it effortlessly-"Surely goodness and mercy have followed me, all the days of my life". Try it today. I'm no expert but I can bet on my glass of mojito that it works.

It's a beautiful morning. It's gonna be a lovely day. Thank God it's Friday!