Christians need assurance that all is well and will be well. They need to know “It is well with my soul.” Christians are often in sorrows, sufferings, and trials. This is not in itself joyous, but grievous; but in another point of view it is a matter of joy. They need to be persuaded of the happiness and privileges of their condition, that they may be able to serve God with cheerfulness and freedom of spirit, and to pass through the troubles and difficulties of the world. There are many good and bad things in life, how do we view them? God is there at the beginning and he is there at the end and he is at every point in between. God is at work. Not luck … or chance … or blind fate. And that answers the great question, Where is God when it hurts? The answer is, Romans 8:28 begins with God. He was there before it all happened, he is there when it happens and he is still there after it is all over.
Paul had taught about the darkness of sufferings but in Romans 8:17 he encouraged us by saying the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. That is to encourage us as we face going through the valley of suffering. He has also pointed out for us that the help of the Holy Spirit is on our side too, for he constantly prays for us. We do not know what to pray as we ought, but he prays with unuttered groaning’s, and his prayers, they are always answered for they are made in accordance with the will of God, and as a comfort for us he says they’re also prayers for the saints. God is interested in you, the believer. In this section he encourages those who are going through difficult times by pointing them to the great purpose of God, a five-fold chain of salvation foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, glorification. God has trials for his saints, and those that live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer affliction. Paul was man of many trials. He went from one tribulation to another, for Christ’s sake. He swam through many seas of affliction to serve the church.
“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. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
Ver. 28. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” This is one of the most greatest promises in the Bible. It is a place of comfort and assurance for the believer. It is a place of protection in the storms of life and the tragedies we meet. It is a fortress, a castle wherein we live. When we apply this promise it takes care of or anxieties, our confusion, our fear and or uncertainty. We believe he is in control of all things. As we witness the world sinking into the morass of evil and rebellion towards God, when we hear bad news about ourselves our jobs our health, our family this promise causes us to have hope, helps us to explain the awful things of life. When everything goes against you and you turn to this scripture it helps you understand it all.
Are All Things Good?
How can we say sickness is good, murder is good, child pornography is good, divorce is t good, rape is good, the death of a child or a loved one is good. The Bible never asks us to pretend that tragedy isn’t tragedy. Or to pretend that our pain isn’t real. Some look at those situations and tragedies and say, “That’s not a tragedy. It only looks that way. Just have faith.” If you believe that tragedy is not really tragedy, you will probably lose your faith altogether.
When things go wrong do we say it is fate or kismet, karma or luck? Do we believe in oriental fatalism or do we understand with Paul that God is actively involved in our lives and situations? What happens to you and to me is not chance and there is no one can stop it or has control of it. God is actively at work in your life!!!
I know a few young men who are police men one was shot and severely wounded last year in the USA that other was shot and severely wounded a number of years ago in Belfast they have injuries that will stay with them the rest of their lives . Do all thing s work together for good for them?
A missionary catches an infection from one of the people he is trying to reach with the gospel in a third world country he has half of his stomach removed and other complications that limit him all his life. Can God work it together for good?
Another missionary friend goes to the mission field and within a few years has to come home, she has a brain tumour, suffers a number of months then dies. Can God bring anything good out of that?
A woman becomes a Christian her husband leaves her because of this. Can God work it together for good.
A lady with an extreme heart condition is rushed to hospital over 20 times. Can God bring good out of that. Well every time she ended up in hospital she led someone to the Lord and believed that was her ministry.
Paul is not saying, “Whatever happens is good.” He is not saying that suffering and evil and tragedy are good? He is not saying everything will work out if we just have enough faith but will not if we don’t? He is not saying that we will be able to understand why God allowed tragedy to come?
He is saying God works all things together for good, He is saying “God is at work.” We cannot see his invisible hand of providence moving in our lives or in our universe but he is working. We’re not always sure what is happening or what he is doing but we know that ultimately his finished work will exclude tears, death, evil and sin. God combines everything and causes all things to “work together.” He takes the things that don’t make sense to us and produces something good. He takes the dark threads of life as well as the bright coloured threads and knits them together to produces something that will look like his son. He includes the suffering and pain and ultimately produces “good” out of it.
We do know he is working to conform believers to the image of his dear Son. God overrules the evil afflictions and weaves them together to make it all good for the believer. He takes all the good things all the bad things all occurrences and events, all things, whatsoever they be and makes them work for the believer’s good. They do not shape our lives or dictate our futures, he does that, it is God that turns all things to the good for us. God takes the afflictions of believers and brings beauty out of ashes, and the end result is good. When David was afflicted God brought something good out of it, “Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now have I kept Thy word. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn Thy statutes.” Paul said, “Tribulation worketh patience.” And “No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness Unto them which are exercised thereby.” Paul’s thorn in his flesh was sent to him to prevent his being exalted above measure. The sufferings of those spoken of in Hebrews 11 were designed to detach their affections from this present world, and lead them to seek a better, even a heavenly country. Sometimes there was a need be for their being in heaviness through manifold temptations Even the sins of believers work for their good, chastisement and correction follow. It leads us to holy living. God shows His children, what is in their hearts, which shows the necessity to depend upon him and walk with Him more closely. God rules and overrules everything for our good. A tapestry seen from the wrong side has no beauty but when you turn it over and look at the right side it’s a beautiful pattern. Life is like that, when we look at it from the human side it sometimes looks a mess and confusing but because God works all things together for good, to those that love him, to those who are the called according to his purpose. The things that happen that confuse us, things we do not understand from a human viewpoint when submitted to this promise we see God ultimately at work. We understand “my thoughts are not Thy thoughts. My ways are not Thy ways.” It is His will that will be done.
God is sovereign and in control of all things. He manages every aspect and all the details of our lives and works all things together for good to those who love God, though we must face the sufferings of this present time (Romans 8:18). God is able to even make those sufferings work together for our good and His good. God is able to work all things, not some things. He works them for good together, not in isolation. This promise is for those who love God in the Biblical understanding of love, and God manages the affairs of our life because we are called according to His purpose.
The Beneficiaries of the Promise
To those who are the called according to His purpose. — They are called according to God’s eternal purpose, according to which He knew them, and purposed their calling before they were in existence; for all God’s purposes are eternal. The beneficiaries of this massive promise are believers is “to them who love the Lord, to them who are called, according to his purpose.” who can be sure that all the pain in their life is ultimately used for our good. God works all things together for good. He should be at the beginning of the verse not the end. But some people look at life that way. It is a promise “to those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” This verse is true of Christians and only of Christians. It is not a blanket promise to the whole human race. Why? Because God’s purpose is to make his children one day like his Son.
God does not wait for a tragedy and then show up to make everything come out right. Paul does not say we hope all things work together for good, but we believe they do. He is dogmatic that God’s grand divine and continuing providence encircles and supports the saints of God as they walk through the Valley of Sufferings. It for those who love the Lord.
“Who are the called according to his purpose.” It means to love God and his grace. The man who loves God is the individual who has been brought to faith by God, and thus he is the person who has responded according to the purpose of God, purpose of God.
The Bible Pattern of All Things Working Together For Good
In Genesis 3 things looked so bad but the last chapter of Revelation the are so good.
As Job looked at the devastation in his life, the loss of all his children the destruction of his business the extreme physical horrors he experienced life looked bad as he found himself in difficult circumstances early in the book of Job but in Chapter 42 it all turned out good. Job was right his so called friends were wrong, they tough he was suffering because of he sinned but it was for Gods glory. There is a teaching today that says we should not suffer we should not be sick and if you are then you are not a real Christian but it is the opposite the Bible tells us we must all suffer as we live the Christian life.
At times Jacobs life seemed a mess but he learned that God worked it for good in the end. God reconciled his broken family that he had wept over so much. Everything was working wonderfully for Jacob at the end. Joseph was not dead. He was the prime minister of Egypt. Simeon was not in prison, but he was detained by a brother’s heart, who was bursting to express his love for him, and only because he wanted Benjamin, his blood brother, did he confine Simeon, and they were starving in the land, and he was the one who had charge over all of the granaries of the greatest kingdom upon the face of the earth at that time, when Jacob said, “All these things are against me.” Finally after he had said, “all these things are against me”, says, “The God that fed me all the days of my life.” It’s a magnificent text.
Joseph’s life looked confusing and difficult to understand. Things looked so bad but he finally understood that what his brothers they for evil but God meant it for good. Joseph was sold into captivity by his brothers changed their minds about killing him. He was sold to the Midianities then ultimately he was put into the hands of the Egyptians. Finally the brethren of Joseph, are brought down to Egypt in the providence of God and Joseph, longing to let them know who he was finally does. He weeps out loud and falls upon their neck and tells them the story of his life from the divine standpoint. He says, “You sold me into Egypt, but God sent me before you to preserve life. God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity on the earth, so now it was not you that sent me here but God.” You meant it for evil but God meant it for good. Joseph knew that God works even in evil matters, he recognized the sovereign hand of God in his life. “All things work together for good for Joseph.” And not only for Joseph but for the brethren.
Things looked bad when Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. But he became the great leader of the Israelites.
On more than one occasion David’s life was in danger and he envied the prosperity and health of the wicked, having entered the sanctuary and considered their end, views it in a different Light. ‘Nevertheless I am continually with Thee; Thou hast holden me by Thy right hand; Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory.’ ‘In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.’ ‘Thou hast put gladness in my heart more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. I will both lay me down in peace and sleep, for Thou, Lord, only makest me to dwell in safety.’
When Daniel was in the lions den it seemed as though life for him was about to end but God shut the lions moth and Daniel had victory in his circumstances. Dan. 2:20-22 Daniel answered and said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. And it is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.
Three men in the furnace
When the three young men in the fiery furnace who were willing to die if god desired not to deliver them things looked bad but One like the son of Man appeared in the furnace with them and they escaped with not a hair of their head singed.
He understood God more than anyone. He understood God had complete authority, complete sovereignty he does according this will in heaven and earth. If God wants to do something he will do it and nothing can stop him. Do you understand how much power that is. Everything is about God. That is the God we have come to worship. Dan. 4:34-35 “But at the end of that period I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation. “and all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What hast Thou done?’ God is all powerful over the kings and rulers of the earth.
When Jesus went into the mouth of intense suffering and pain, and experienced the terrible death on the cross everything looked dark and all seemed to be lost, it looked bad but then on the fist day of the week he arose and it ended up good. Acts 3:18
The disciples of Jesus suffered. “So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.” Acts 4:41 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer.
When John asked What death he should die. Or What about him. Jesus said what business is it of yours follow thy me.
When Paul first became a Christian God told him how great thing he must suffer for His sake the future looked badActs 9:16 will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” 2 Corinthians 11 records some of the awful events n his life but it all turned out for his good. When Paul received the messenger from Satan to afflict him physically it looked bad but God said, “My grace is sufficient and my strength made perfect in weakness.” And Apostle Paul, called to be the apostle of the Gentiles found himself, in prison. He could have argued everything is against me, I must be out of the will of God, but it was in the prison that he wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, letters that have blessed the church of God down through the years. Later on his confinement, he wrote 2 Timothy. It’s a magnificent text.
They were sad because they though the resurrection was over but the good news is it had not yet happened and they, like ourselves have something wonderful to look forward to.
The saints and martyrs in history
Things may look bad. Life may be difficult and you may be going through a period of suffering and trial but God will work it all out for good. You may not understand all that is happening right now but he will work it together for good. Romans 8:17. “and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. Phil. 1:29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 2 Tim. 3:12
For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 1 Pet. 2:20
Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator. 1 Pet. 4:19
We are too limited to understand Gods great plan, we are too weak and inferior to fight the enemies of life on our own. We encounter so many trials and tribulations and need His power to have victory over them. Along the way we have the internal help of the Holy Spirit who helps our infirmities and also prays for them. This is an encouragement and the strongest consolation.
The End Result is Good
We Need To Have The End Result in View
The good is in verse 29 “”For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” God has predestined you and me to a certain end. That certain end is the “good” and not evil. This is not fatalism or blind chance but God has a purpose to it all. It’s the plan of a loving Father, and that makes all the difference in the world, between the doctrine of fatalism and the doctrine that is taught in the word of God. The God of eternity is the God of every hour and minute, for a believer in Jesus Christ. God foreknew you before the foundation of the cosmos, he predestined a plan for your life, he called you to enter into the plan, he justified you with the free gift of grace and is in the process of glorifying you to look like Jesus.
So many things in life seem unexplainable. Why do accidents happen? Why are some homes destroyed in a hurricane and not others? Why does one person do well in life while another struggles all his life? Why did the cancer come back when the doctor gave is the all clear? There are many questions we cannot answer from a human viewpoint only the divine one. We see no purpose in sickness, or tragedy, but he can bring something good out of it.
We judge or come to our conclusion on the basis of time of the here and now. He has eternity in mind and knows the end from the beginning. He see all the details. He has a purpose.
Paul is saying God takes everything and shapes it by a divine design. And nothing is ever wasted in the process. In another place Paul says, He is the potter we are the clay.
That is how we must look at life. We must not judge the end by the beginning, but rather the beginning by the end.
God has predestined you and me to something good. That certain end is that we might be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ. God is at work in your life making you like Jesus Christ. He has predestined you to that end. He is at work in your life making that happen. Therefore, anything that makes you more like Jesus Christ is good. Anything that pulls you away from Jesus Christ is bad.
Paul is not saying that the tragedies and heartaches of life will always produce a better set of circumstances. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. God is not committed to making you healthy, wealthy and wise. He is committed to making you like his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And whatever it takes to make you more like Jesus is good.
So it is in the providence of God that we learn more in the darkness than we do in the light. We gain more from sickness than we do from health. We pray more when we are scared than when we are confident.
What is God doing in your life? He is making you into the image of Jesus Christ. God has predestined you to be like Jesus. That’s a long road for most of us. Along the way tragedies come and there are many setbacks. But God is determined and will not be set aside.
And everything that happens to you the tragedies, the worst things in life, the hurt and pain, the sickness and sorrow, the unexplained circumstances, the sin and the doubts even the stupid choices you make and works it together for good.
God is at work in your life. Right now, cutting the rough edges shaping you into the image of his son. In the end, you will look like the Lord Jesus Christ. God is at work in us and through us and by everything that happens to us to transform us into the image of his Son.He is always at work. He is never deterred by us. Nothing happens to us outside his control. There are no mistakes and no surprises.
We know it because we know him. We know it not by looking at the events of life but by knowing God. There are so many things we don’t know.
What We Understand and What We Don’t
1. We ask why bad things happen to us but must not try to explain the in-explainable He is our infinitely wise Father and knows what he is doing. It is not possible that we should understand all he does. It is enough that we love him and know that he is there. Better to say nothing than to speak of things we know nothing about.
2. Gods ways, gods God’s values and our values are not the same. We will not always understand. We are not called to praise God for evil, sin and death. But we can praise God for the good he can work in the darkest days of life.
Evil is not good. We are not to live in a pretend dream world. We must be real and call the terrible things terrible but no matter how unfair our God is there. He has not left us. His purposes are being worked out as much in the darkness as they are in the light.
Life and circumstances are not Fate? Chance? The impersonal forces of nature? The scriptures teach that All things ultimately contribute to the ultimate good of those who love God.