When we hear Bible Verses
about things working “for the good,” it’s easy to feel happy and warm and satisfied. They’re talking about good things! Good things for us! Those good things we’ve been wanting or working toward or longing for… right? Not exactly. Romans 8:28 is a classic, popular example of a verse like this: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Okay, so we love God, and then things are good for us? Actually, this verse actually goes much deeper than that. We’ve been getting it all wrong.
Here are three important takeaways from this verse that offer us so much more:
1. The “good” this verse talks about isn’t necessarily what we might think is good. Our American culture is one that highly values getting what we want and getting it when we want it. That’s what the world would call “good” — getting exactly what your heart desires on the exact time frame you envision with zero complications and a nice big bow on top. The “good” referred to in this verse, however, is not our idea of good, but God’s. His purposes and plans for our lives are far greater than we could ever comprehend, and He knows what is best for us as we grow and become more like Christ in our maturity. This verse is not at all promising that we will get whatever we want, but instead giving us the guarantee that God is working for us, knowing what is truly best for us as we grow closer to Him.
2. Our calling is a relationship with Him. The first chapter of Romans (read it here!) addresses our calling: it is to be in a loving, belonging relationship with Jesus Christ. It is more than just a simple invitation. We are brought close to Him in a deep and life-changing relationship, which is why Jesus came to earth to die for us. This calling is the whole message of the Gospel! He came to make a way for us to be with Him. So often, we can get off track when it comes to considering our calling– we might feel like we don’t have one, that we aren’t special enough to be called to do anything important for God’s kingdom, or that our calling is in the past and no longer applies. Verse 28 helps to remind us that our calling is God’s purpose for our lives, and each one of us have a unique purpose that our life is designed to serve to bring glory to God.
3. His ultimate purpose is eternity with us. This verse seems vague about “his purpose,” but we know as keep reading in Romans 8 that the end result is glory. It’s the grand finale of a life of faith. It’s why Jesus came, it’s why we’ve been offered such grace and mercy, it’s why He offers us forgiveness of all of our sins, and it’s why He is at work in each of our lives. He wants us to live with Him forever in glorious eternity.
This might not sit well with you. (I confess it was challenging for me personally to realize the reality might be more difficult than this verse would lead you to believe at first glance!) You might read those three points and feel uneasy or frustrated or totally uninterested. You might wish that it all was as easy as loving God and then things being good. (Wouldn’t that be nice?) You might be wanting more concrete instructions, or hoping someone would just tell you what your calling is and give you a roadmap for how to live it out… but sadly, the life of faith takes a lot more trust in God’s timing and sovereignty. Faith takes, well, faith.
This verse goes against the way our world works and reminds us we aren’t in control at all. It reminds us that there will be things in our lives that we don’t like at all or would never have hoped for– things we would quickly label as “bad” and not “good” at all. There are tragedies and diagnoses and death, even for those who are faithful followers of God. Those things might not make any sense to us while we are living on this Earth, but this verse gives us the assurance that the Lord is in control and never unaware of what we’re going through.
No matter how difficult “all things” in our lives might be, we can take comfort knowing that God is at work, orchestrating everything in a way that brings him glory and is for our good, even when it doesn’t feel like it. The glory is coming, and it will be more than worth it all when it does!