And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
The above verse is probably one of the most quoted verses when something terrible happens in our lives. I think every time I've had a death in my family, someone, somewhere, will quote this verse to me. It is meant as a form of comfort, of course, and people mean well when they say it, but how does it really apply to our lives? Do all bad things have a good purpose? Does God purposely cause all things to work out in a Christian's favour?
The verse immediately after Romans 8:28 gives the impression that God makes everything work out for the Christian, that He basically has preordained who would become His, thus enjoying His blessings. But is that what it really means?
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Does predestination mean that everything is always going to work out for our good just because we are Christians? Yes and no.
We live in a fallen world, and God sends rain and sunshine on good and bad alike. In other words, everyone - Christian or not - will experience good and bad things in life. For those who do not yet know the Lord, those moments of tragedy and despair will either draw them closer to God or cause them to curse Him. The choice will be theirs. Likewise, either Christians will turn to God in their moments of struggle or have a crisis of faith. Again, the option is theirs. But here's the kicker, and Christians really need to pay attention to this: those bad things that happen to you ARE working together for your good. The problem is, you might not see that "good" until you reach your heavenly home. So it all comes down to a matter of faith and trusting in God to do right by you.
If you believe that God "works for the good of those who love Him," then you will trust Him in all things, even if you don't see that "good" in this lifetime. Why? Because "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things" - 1 Corinthians 13:7.
How Much Do You Trust God?
God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. The word "called" is klētos in Greek, and it means one who is called, ordained, or invited. What is God's purpose in inviting us to Him? To see all of humanity redeemed. So let's clarify this a little more - is God working good towards those He loves or towards those who love Him? Did Jesus die on a cross only for those who loved Him? No. He died for the whole world (John 3:16). So in all things, He loved us before we loved Him (1 John 4:9-10). He sent His son for us and worked out His good purpose for the whole world to be saved. Are only some predestined to be saved? No. God sent His Son for all the world to be saved. He also intended for all to be conformed into the likeness of His Son. This gift is available for all. Does God know who will accept this gift? Yes. Does He stop working in the lives of those who have yet to receive it? No. If this were not true, I would not be a Christian today because only God could have created the circumstances and brought the people into my life that would lead me to His throne one day. The same is true for all who have yet to acknowledge Christ as Saviour.
John Piper said this: "Paul said that God “set me apart before I was born,” and then on the Damascus road “called me by his grace” (Galatians 1:15). This means that between Paul’s birth and his call on the Damascus road he was an already-chosen but not-yet-called instrument of God (Acts 9:15; 22:14)."
God's purpose in all this is that everyone will be reconciled to Him. God continues to work in the life of the Christian and the unsaved for their good. Christians who love the Lord obey when we hear His voice. The unsaved person who is drawn to God awakens spiritually. Then, according to God's purpose, all is fulfilled and works together for our good. God moves because He loves us. Christians obey because we love Him. His purpose is fulfilled according to His will, and another is led to the throne of God.
© 2014 Laura J. Davis. All Rights Reserved.