We knew it was coming. Hardly a sermon goes by without a mention of this verse. People nod at the opening words. Right. Got this one. We’ve heard it so many times we may no longer hear it at all.
So, a favor. Pretend you’ve never met this verse before. Come at it fresh. Let God show you something you’ve missed all those other times.
Just as his mercies are new every morning, so are his truths.
“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.” Romans 8:28
“And we know that…” Romans 8:28
In the NIV this verse comes under the heading, “Present Suffering and Future Glory.” When you’re suffering—and so many among us are—the future may look bleak, even frightening.
So, the Lord addresses our greatest fear straight up. This tough situation we’re in that seems permanent and meaningless? It is in fact temporary and purposeful.
“We are well assured” (KNOX), Paul writes, and “are confident” (VOICE) that the hardship we’re dealing with today will end—and end well—because God is in it from start to finish.
“…in all things…” Romans 8:28
That’s right, “everything” (CJB) we might be up against, “every detail in our lives” (MXG) is not only on his radar, it’s in his hands. Here we were thinking God only worries about the big stuff. No, it all matters to God.
Pray about all of it. Trust him with all of it. Know he’s got all of it.
What “things” are on your list of major concerns right now? That stuff you’re fretting about, obsessing over, suffering through? Go ahead, count them. Is it your finances? your health? your child? your parents? your job? your church? your marriage? your singleness? your friendships? your future?
Whether you counted your difficulties on one hand, or needed a calculator to keep track, they are all in his grip. All. Saying it again. All things.
And God isn’t just holding them. He is doing something about them.
“…God works…” Romans 8:28
There it is. The assurance we need most. God is working on it. Or, as we’ve said many times in this series, “God has this!” He is laboring on our behalf, and “makes all things work together” (NLV).
Like a master auto mechanic, the Lord understands how all those parts under the hood work—after all, he made them according to his design—and he knows how to keep things running, even when we’re almost out of fuel and the road ahead is full of potholes.
Yet unlike the mechanic, who takes a lunch break and goes home at night, “God is always at work” (CEV). His shop never closes. He adjusts and tightens and lubricates and runs diagnostics until “all things work together” (NLV).
He’s also not afraid to get his hands dirty. Whatever kind of mess you’re in, he’s in it with you. God is never disgusted, discouraged, disappointed, or disinterested. He has one aim, and that’s to get you up and running, better than ever.
“…for the good…” Romans 8:28
Key word. Key. “Everything that happens fits into a pattern for good” (PHILLIPS), as God works “toward something good and beautiful” (VOICE) in our lives. Whatever is happening is “for the best” (GNV). Even if it doesn’t appear so right this minute.
You know how when you clean out a closet, things look worse before they get better? Clothes piled here and there, dust flying around the room, boxes for Goodwill, for storage, for giveaway, all spilling over onto the floor? At some point you lose heart and think you’ll never be finished, that you’ll live in this mess forever.
But when you’re finally done and everything’s sorted, it’s a thing of beauty, that clean closet. You open the door several times a day just to admire the view.
That’s how God works in our lives. Hands on. Cleaning, straightening, repairing, overhauling, taking apart, putting back together. We don’t know how or why our lives got so messy, and at this point, it doesn’t matter. We just need help.
Because he loves us, God is more than willing and supremely able to turn our garbage into a platform for his glory.
Does he do this for everyone on the planet? He does not. Only for those who lift the hoods of their run-down cars or throw open the doors of their messy closets and say, “Oh, Lord, I’m so glad you’re here. Please come in and stay forever.”
“…of those who love him,…” Romans 8:28
So, do you love God? I’m not talking about a warm, happy feeling. I’m talking about commitment and trust and sacrifice.
No question, God loves you. I’m asking, do you love him? Do you believe what he has for you is for your good? That’s the real test of our faith, isn’t it? To say, “Yes, God, whatever you have for me in this life, I will receive as a gift of love from your hands.”
When well-meaning people say, “God never gives you more than you can handle,” they are not quoting Scripture. They aren’t even speaking the truth. God intentionally gives us more than we can handle because he is the One who will handle things. All things. Everything.
Maybe they’re thinking of the verse, “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear…” (1 Corinthians 10:13), which falls in the middle of Paul’s teaching on idol worship and other sins. It is comforting to know that when temptation rears its ugly head, God will provide a means of escape.
But nowhere does it say we are to handle things on our own. It’s always God providing the way out. God doing the heavy lifting.
When we’re overwhelmed with grief, should we keep telling ourselves, “I can handle this?” No, we turn to God and say, “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word” (Psalm 119:28).
When we’re ready to drop with exhaustion, or we fear we’re losing our way, are we to think, “I can handle this?” No, we remind ourselves, “It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure” (Psalm 18:32).
“…who have been called…” Romans 8:28
Not called on the phone, nor called to be missionaries or evangelists, simply “called to be saints” (DRA). Members of God’s family. One of “the people God chose, because that was his plan” (ERV). When you were “summoned” (OJB), you responded. When God reached out, you said, “Yes,” by the power of his Holy Spirit, and accepted “His invitation to live according to His plan” (VOICE).
“…according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
More hands at work, shaping and molding us “in fulfillment of his design” (KNOX) and “in keeping with his purpose” (NIRV). “We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8).
More messiness, more mystery. Will we become water jars or flower vases? have two handles or none? be glazed or plain?
His Word gently reminds us, “Does the clay say to the potter, ’What are you making?’” (Isaiah 45:9). No. I believe the pot says, “You are trustworthy, Lord. Whatever you are making, it is good.” Because it is “purposeful” (OJB). And because someday we will be a finished work of art standing in his glorious presence.
Now it’s your turn
I’m grateful that so many people chose this verse as their favorite. Did God reveal to you some new truth about Romans 8:28? Or show you how it applies to your life right now? Kindly add your response under Post a Comment below.
Just four verses to go! Next time we’ll return to the New Testament for a very peace-filled verse. It’s exactly what this girl needs during this busy season. I pray it will minister to you as well.
Your sister, Liz
I’d love to encourage you in person this fall…