Romans 8:28-“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
The concept of all things working out for our good isn’t always an easy concept to accept or to live by. For those who believe that the Sovereignty of God means that the good, the bad, and the ugly, comes from God, this concept is easier to accept. For those who say they are of the “faith” movement, it’s a challenge because “faith moves mountains” and when the mountains don’t move, this scripture can seem as a cop out for your faith!
I know what I am talking about, especially in regards to my personal life. At one time, I wasn’t fond of this verse! (Don’t shoot me, yet!) It was as if, every time something happened that I didn’t care for, this would be the scripture that would come to me. And every time, I would feel like it was an excuse for me not seeing God show up in my situations! Things will work out, I would tell myself! Don’t worry about it! God’s got you! But there were times when it just didn’t seem that way! Am I talking to anybody today?
People often ask tough questions like, “How can the fact that my house burned down with everything in it, work for my good?” Or, “How can you tell me that my spouse leaving me and the kids is for my good? Or better yet, how can you even suggest that my loved one dying during this pandemic was for my good?” Genuine, heartfelt questions! Causing this scripture to seem cliche and insensitive to the one who it is told to. Because in the midst of the struggle, in the midst of the heartache, in the midst of the pain, it really doesn’t seem feasible that good could come out of sorrow! But it can, and it does!
Paul begins this verse with a simple phrase, “and we know”! I think this is important enough for us to stop and look at, so I will! There are two words in the Greek for our English word “know”, ginosko and oida. Ginosko suggests a progression in knowledge, while oida suggests fullness of knowledge. (Vine’s) Jesus uses both of these forms of the word “know” in the following verse:
“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”John 14:7
Translated: If you had “ginosko“, or had definitely come to know Me, you would have known (oida), would have had a perception, or real knowledge of my Father also, and from now on you “ginosko” would now consciously be in the constant and progressive experience of knowing Him. Ginosko implies have a relationship between the one who knows and the thing that is known, while oida suggests that the object has simply come within the scope of the “knower’s” perception or knowledge of. (Vine’ Dictionary).
The phrase Paul used was, “and we oida“, we have knowledge of. Paul wasn’t expressing what he was getting to know about God, but what he already knew about God! After all, only someone who had suffered a great deal, through a variety of circumstances and attacks, can confidently state, “and we know”!
What did Paul know? He had knowledge of the truth that all things worked together for good! He didn’t say that everything was good, only that all things worked together for good! Let’s look at an example in his life:
As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.Acts 8:3 NKJV
For the Christian, what could possibly be the good in this situation? Paul led the charge against them; yet, it was this charge that moved the Christians from Jerusalem to go throughout the continent. As they went, they spread the gospel to other regions. As Paul arrested them, he saw their faith in the Lord Jesus and was troubled by it. We call it conviction! It led to his own salvation!
Paul went through continuous persecutions, but as he fled one place to another, he led others to Christ. As he was beaten, let down through windows, thrown out of cities, and left to die, he would just get up and keep preaching. One situation leading to another, but always with others coming to Christ. Even when he was told that bonds awaited him in Jerusalem, he declared that he was not only ready to suffer for Christ, but to die for Him also! This is the Paul who wrote that He understood that all things work together for good to those who love God.
Loving God is a condition for seeing the faithfulness of God in the midst of sufferings. When you love Him, you know He is working on your behalf even when you can’t see it, even when you don’t feel it! He’s working! And the end result is for good towards His people!
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV
That’s all the Father has on His mind when He thinks of us: peace, good, hope, a future. He isn’t trying to destroy our lives or bring pain and destruction, but when it comes, He works it out for our good and for His glory!
The end of the verse states, “to those who are the called according to His purpose”. In the Vine’s, the phrase, “the called” is from the Greek word “kletos” and it means invited. The Vines’s uses the word in this manner:
“invited (by God in the proclamation of the gospel) to obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God through Christ”Vine’s Dictionary G2822
That’s us! We have been invited by God to partake of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ! Not only that, it suggests that the invitation is to a banquet! In the midst of sufferings, we’re invited to the banqueting table:
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;Psalm 23:5 NKJV
The banquet wasn’t prepared in the times of celebration, but in the time of the attack before the enemy!
Wasn’t it a banquet, that Esther “invited” Haman and the king to, to expose his plot against her people! Didn’t that work out for Esther’s good and the good of her people? It was a bad situation, but God worked it out!
The Shulamite said:
He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.Songs of Solomon 2:4 NKJV
God loves His people! That includes you and me. Unfortunately, we experience things that are hard, heart wrenching, and down right tough! It seems unfair, to say the least! Paul addressed this letter to people who saw all of that and so much more! But he wanted to encourage them, that even when they didn’t know how to pray, or what to pray for, the Spirit of God was with them to assist them!
Some prayers are groanings which cannot be uttered! Have you been there? Some prayers are from a place of weakness and we can’t get anything out but some tears! But we know, Paul said, that all of these things work together for good! Strengthening us! Strengthening our faith! Strengthening our resolve! And then we look up, and we are in a place we had only imagined, but He made manifest because He used our hardship for our good!
I’ll close with this: My parents and my grandparents died before I entered high school. It was the most painful time of my life. I went through some things as a result of not having parents. But today, I can truly say that those things were used by God to help and mold me into the person I am today. I don’t know who I would’ve been had they lived, but I know who I am now! And I love the me I have become! Keep loving and trusting Him! You are invited to share in all that He has and He is working it all out so that you can! Wonderful Jesus!!