You’ve likely heard the passage in Romans 8 more times than you can count.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Rom. 8:28
You may even be singing the Newsboys song “all things work together for my good…” (Your love never fails).
People will tell you, “He’s going to make this work out well for you. Just you wait and see.” And is this wrong? I suppose it could be if taken the wrong way.
I’ve got a dilemma. There are outcomes which I’ve thought of in my mind (and so have you) that would be good for me, in my opinion. It would be good for me to make friends quickly, to find a church where we can serve, to get a good parking spot at the grocery store, to have my kids behave well, to be healthy, etc. You get the picture. But then a lot of times, these things don’t happen. And this is bad. Right? Isn’t that what we say though? “My day is going so badly. I have been telling my two year old all day not to touch things and he disobeys constantly!”
I’m thinking this is not what Paul (or God) had in mind when he wrote the letter to the Romans. First of all, God’s plans don’t revolve around me. We’d like to think they do, but it’s very clear in the Scriptures that God’s plans are for His glory. (See Eph. 1:11, Phil. 2:13, Col. 1:15-18).
Secondly, when did God ever promise that having an easy life is what is good for us? We translate that word good into “easy”, “comfortable”, “convenient”. And then we get into a real pickle when we start thinking that when bad things happen (as we define bad), that must mean God has left us or is punishing us or is just not looking out for us (because Romans 8 also says God is for us).
It’s unsettling, isn’t it? We’ve got our theology all wrong if those are the thoughts that go through our mind.
I believe that God allows adversity into our lives to refine us, strengthen us, and to test our faith. Remember the Israelites as they began their journey out of Egypt? It says God tested them (Ex. 16) to see whether or not they would do what He said. Would they be faithful? No, He found them faithless, and because of this, that generation who didn’t trust Him ended up wandering in the wilderness until they all died (all except Joshua). However it was because of this adversity, the next generation learned to trust God on a daily basis for food and water and direction. That was definitely good for them because they would be walking into a land already occupied by people who had no regard for the one true God.
Likewise it is good for us to be conformed to the image of His Son through any number of trials because it is Him chiseling our character, chipping away at the things that don’t resemble Jesus.
So remember that, yes, God causes all things to work together for our good, but that good may look differently from what you imagined, and it was always be better than what you had in mind for yourself. He is that good. You can trust Him.