“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)
It is one thing to believe you are blessed when things are well, yet quite another when you’re in the midst of a struggle. Christian or not, suffering is one topic we all like avoiding. More than that, we prefer not experience it. But for many that’s not possible. Suffering is a part of life, and for some the burden is great. This quote was shared by a friend of mine, who in the fall of 2012 found himself in the midst of his own struggle with lung cancer. In Scripture, there are certain passages that are sometimes termed “problem passages”. They may be termed this for various reasons. Perhaps there is a seeming contradiction with other parts of Scripture, though there is not. Maybe the structure of the passage itself makes our interpretation of it difficult. And at other times, we deem certain passages of Scripture a “problem” because of our difficulty in fully comprehending the magnitude of what God is saying. Romans 8:28 is such a passage. We often claim it without really understanding it and then when things fail to meet our definition of good, we question it. But this verse, though we may deem it a “problem passage”, is really not a problem at all, but rather a promise to hold on to.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” The Greek translation for the word “know” means to believe without a doubt. In this verse it relates to the eternal security and blessing that comes from knowing that we are in God’s hand. It is a promise made to “those who love God”. What a great promise to know that God is always working toward our ultimate good. This doesn’t mean that everything that happens is good because it’s not, only that God’s purposes are. The good purpose is that we be conformed to the image of His Son; our being made more like Christ (Romans 8:29). Note the use of “all things” in this passage. It means just that, “all things”, every circumstance and every event in our lives. Though it’s hard to imagine this could include suffering, it does.
The reality of suffering is a difficult truth taught in Scripture. How it might serve a useful purpose runs contrary to our natural thought processes. Suffering upsets our plans and causes many to question God’s goodness. But no matter what it may do to our plans, suffering is incapable of upsetting God’s. Those to whom Paul was writing needed to know that because their circumstances told them differently. Yours may as well. Romans 8:28 provides great comfort in knowing that everything God purposes is good. Is a diagnosis of cancer the way in which we would prefer to learn this? Certainly not! But the way in which God takes these moments and uses them in the lives of people to draw them closer to Him is amazing. It can only be explained by God’s grace. So though we may have a difficult time comprehending the full depth in which God speaks, we can trust Him. He is good and His purposes are perfect. Though he may not always feel this way, I believe my friend knows this to be true. From the first time I spoke with him after his diagnosis, I sensed a peace in him. And now after treatment, his prognosis is good and he has returned to work. Each time I spoke with him during these last few months I also sensed an open heart to whatever God purposes for his future. Not many of us can relate to what this sort of battle is like, but we know the character of God. We know that the promise of Romans 8:28, like all of His promises, God will keep. And when we know that, this passage; well, it really isn’t a problem at all. Oh, that we would be more like Christ!
Father, thank you for being a sovereign God. We trust in that sovereignty, knowing that as your children your purposes are always good. When struggles come our way, often times that is a difficult truth to grasp. But you’ve promised to help us. So we pray that by the power of the Holy Spirit we will trust in your promise. We pray for comfort and peace at all times, but especially during difficult times. We trust in you Lord and thank you that you hear our prayer. Amen!