Riots, murder, betrayal, and the vacuum of leadership are throughout this country and the world. Extremism regarding the COVID response has put people in danger of losing their job and their health. People are being persecuted. Evil is rampant. Race relationships are in a tense condition. Personal finances are in jeopardy. Legislators are overstepping their bounds. The Constitution is under attack.
With all these horrible things happening at once, how can the following Bible verse be true?
“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.” Romans 8:28
How can this promise be when there are so many terrible things happening in our country?
Keep in mind that these words were directed to Christians in Rome who have themselves been experiencing terrible circumstances.
Can this promise from God be dependable as a means of comfort under duress? This verse does not seem compatible with the real-life situation most people are experiencing. How can there be encouragement when life seems to be in a tailspin?
If we cannot trust this one verse, can we trust the rest of the Bible? It would seem that God has wound up his toy and set back to watch it run. It would seem that when our hearts are breaking God is aloft to our pain.
Most people misquote this verse by saying only the first part. The truth is not that all things work together for good. There is more to this verse. It is an encouragement to those that love God. It is a reminder for those that have responded to his purpose.
To love God puts our life in a better perspective. A later verse in this chapter says, “if God be for us, who can be against us?” (Verse 31) Loving God includes a conscious awareness of his presence in our lives regardless of circumstances. Loving God is a higher priority than fixing our particular situation we are experiencing at the moment. Loving God generates an encouragement that offers a view beyond what is happening at the one point in time. To love God is to trust him that he will see us through the jungle of our lives.
To believe things work together for good demands a calling and willingness to be used for his purpose. His purpose verifies that he is in charge, that in spite of what is happening he knows what he is doing. It means those who trust him see themselves functioning under God’s direction. Under his purpose says those believers think of themselves as instruments to fulfill God’s plan. This could include an attitude in which terrible things are instruments being used in a divine plan.
A good example of this is when Peter was walking on the water. While he kept his eyes on Jesus, he continued to walk because he was walking in obedience and because of faith. When he paid attention to the storm about him, he lost sight of Jesus and diminished his faith.
For us, even though we know that a storm is raging about us, we can look to Jesus or we can look at the storm. To look at Jesus is to love him and to realize we are walking on our own personal path of water according to his purpose and intent for our lives. As we walk in this matter all things will work together for good. This is not to say that good is according to our own definition, but to God’s definition.
Let us paraphrase this verse. “Our circumstances of life are coordinated to fulfill what God has planned while using those circumstances as a means for his will that is directed toward those who love and trust him.”