“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” (Romans 8:28).
It is one of the most quoted verses to encourage others in difficulty. You’ve probably heard some variations of it:
“God works all things to good.”
“God makes all things good.”
“It’s all good.”
I know that might seem helpful in hard times – but if we’re going to quote the Bible, we need to quote it correctly. For at least two reasons: because it is God’s holy, living Word and because it has a far greater and more encouraging word than we are offering. Well, three reasons: when we misquote it, we misunderstand it and we misapply it.
When Paul says that “God works for the good” he isn’t saying God’s going to make all bad things good. He is saying God is working for the good, even in the bad things. He may not change the bad thing to a good thing, but He will ultimately bring something good from it. Just a side note: that almost always takes time. Sometimes a long time. And sometimes when the good comes, so much time has passed that we don’t make the connection – and we don’t see that God was faithful all along. That why the Bible says “remember” so frequently.
Back to our verse. Don’t miss the qualifier: “God works for . . . those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” God works on behalf of His beloved. Does that seem unfair? Hold that thought for just a minute – I’m coming back to it. It’s important to know that when Paul wrote this letter, he did not divide it into chapters and verses, so when we isolate this one verse, we lose his point. Let’s read a little farther: “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers” (v. 29). Now I’m not about to get into predestination – that’s way too deep for Facebook, but I will draw your attention to three words in these two verses: purpose, conformed, and likeness. God works all things for one good purpose: that His beloved child would be conformed to the likeness of His Son. That explains the qualifier – God cannot fulfill His purpose in someone that does not love Him. Surrender is the mark of love – and God can only work in those who have Surrendered to His Son. That’s what it means to be a child of God.
Do you see the greater picture and how it applies to your life? God is working in and through those bad things to bring about His one good purpose for you as His child – that you might look just like Jesus. Like a master sculptor, He looks at His Son and applies the hard blows of the chisel to shape and mold you into the image before Him. God is not just working to make all your bad things into good things, He is working to make a you into a beautiful reflection of perfection. That’s the bigger purpose He has for you Beloved. Now that’s an encouraging word!