Posted March 12, 2015
And we know that for those who love Godall things work together for good,for those who are called according to his purpose.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be memorizing Romans 8:28-39 together. John Piper calls Romans 8 the best chapter in the Bible (see his 7 reasons here: http://www.desiringgod.org/labs/the-greatest-chapter). These verses are incredibly powerful, and we’re so excited to dig into them together! We pray that as we memorize & meditate the last few verses of Romans 8, our hearts and lives would be changed by the truths found here through His Spirit.
This single verse is both one of the most popular and misused verses in the Bible. It is one that Christians throughout the ages have laid their heads on in rest. Here are a few observations that hopefully help us understand this verse better:
Paul is speaking with confidence.
Paul begins this amazing sentence with: “And we know.” This is not Paul crossing his fingers thinking as many positive thoughts he can muster, but rather declaring in confidence biblical truths about God and His promises to His people. We may not know many things, but this we do… May we join Paul and put faith in God’s promises and purpose!
Paul is speaking to believers.
This verse doesn’t say, “All things work together for the good of everyone.” This is not a universal statement, but rather Paul is speaking to believers. This shouldn’t be a blanket statement given away to all going through hard times, but rather to those who have put their trust in Jesus. It should also put a fire in our bones to share the love of Jesus with those who don’t know Him yet so that they might share in the joys of this unbelievable promise!
Paul is speaking in context of suffering.
What does Paul mean by “all things work together for good”? The “all things” here includes both painful things and pleasurable ones. Often we interpret “good” as God eliminating whatever trouble we might be facing: cancer, a troubled relationship, a difficult boss, finances, etc. While God can and does heal cancer and often answers our prayers of need, in the context of the whole chapter we learn that for the believer, the intent of God in our suffering is to make us look more like Jesus! Christians don’t suffer less than non-Christians, but rather the Christian’s suffering plays a refining purpose in conforming us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). God gets to define how He works things for our good, not us. He is the wise and loving Potter, and we are the clay!
God has a purpose.
Friends, there is meaning in everything. The universe is not ruled by chaos but rather a loving King (Eph. 1:11). Since the beginning of time, there has never been a lapse in the rule of God over all things. He is wise enough to have a purpose, strong enough to carry it out, and loving enough to have our good in mind! May we learn to trust in His wisdom and power and love.
For all those who love God, regardless of the season of life you’re going through, know that God is working diligently for your good and His glory. Just as He was behind the scenes working out His good purposes in Jesus’ suffering and death for our redemption, so He is at work in your life today today (Acts 2:23; 4:27). There is purpose behind it all; your suffering is not meaningless! He is a wise, powerful, and loving God.
Song by Gatlin Elms.
Artwork by Jonathan Lindsey.