Grace For The Journey
We have been looking at Romans 8:28 this week and seeking to understand and apply the powerful truths to our lives. In wrapping up our study, I want to answer the question that is the title of today’s – Do all things really work together for good? Can we still believe in Romans 8:28?
Let us be honest and admit that we have at least two problems with these words inspired by the Holy Spirit.
1.They promise something we have trouble believing.
Our text says, “And we know that all things work together for good.” Here is where our difficulty in accepting this truth begins. How can you be so sure about that? Most of us are not as sure as Paul was. We hope all things work together for good; we believe they do. But do we really know that to be true?
2. They include things that we think ought to be left out.
When Paul says “All things work together for good,” that seems too definite for us. All things? We might go far as to say that “some things” work together for good. We understand that out of difficulty we learn great lessons of faith that cannot come any other way. Yes, some things clearly work together for good. But, can we be sure it includes things? Perhaps these words are true in the theoretical sense or perhaps as a statement of faith. But are they true in every part of life?
I do not have to tell you that Romans 8:28
Is one of the most beloved verses in the Bible.
You know that. Many of you could give testimony to that fact. You were sick, and this verse was like medicine to your soul. You lost a loved one, and these words somehow carried you through. You were crushed and beaten by the winds of ill-fortune, and this verse gave you hope to go on.
Therefore, it shocks us to know that there are many who secretly doubt it. They hear this verse quoted, and instead of a balm to the soul, it seems like a mocking, cruel joke.
They say, “What do you mean by good?”
– Sickness is not good.
– Murder is not good.
– Divorce is not good.
– Suicide is not good.
– The death of a child is not good.
This verse is sometimes misused by well-meaning Christians who throw it in the face of those who are suffering as if it could answer every question of life. When it is misused that way, it produces an effect opposite to that intended by Paul.
But like it or not, it’s in the Bible.
And it won’t go away.
Which brings us back to the basic question: Can we still believe in Romans 8:28?
Four considerations will help us answer that question. These are four perspectives we need to keep in mind as we read this verse.
1) We Must Start With God.
Let’s look at the first phrase in three different versions:
King James Version: “All things work together for good to them that love God.”
New American Standard Bible: “God causes all things to work together for good.”
New International Version: “In all things God works for the good of those who love him.”
Did you catch the difference? In the King James version God is way down at the end of the phrase. In the other two versions God is at the beginning. It is partly a question of text and partly a question of grammar. There is nothing wrong with the traditional version, but the modern translations bring out a proper emphasis.
We will never properly understand this verse
As long as we put God at the end
And not at the beginning.
But some people look at life that way. They believe that life is like a roll of the dice – sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. And they believe that after a tragedy, God shows up to make everything come out right. But that is not the biblical view at all.
God is at work. Not luck, or chance, or blind fate.
In reality, God is there at the beginning
. . .He is there at the end
. . . He is there at every point in between.
And that answers the great question, “Where is God when it hurts? Is He there at the beginning, or is He there only at the end?”
The answer is that Romans 8:28 begins with God.
He was there before it all happened
. . . He is there when it happens
. . . He is still there after it is all over.
That forever puts an end to the happy-ever-afterism that says, “No matter what happens, God will turn a tragedy into a blessing.” That’s fine for fairy tales, but not for real life.
What do you say when a little child dies? Or when a cop is killed by a drug dealer? Or when a man dies on the mission field? Or when a woman is cheated out of her inheritance? Or when a friend dies of AIDS? Or when your marriage falls apart after thirty-eight years? It is hard to see how these things are good.
When we look at these situations, we must at all costs resist the cheap explanation. It’s too quick, too easy. Sometimes tragedies happen and well-meaning people 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.
Suppose I have an accident and wreck my car. And suppose when I take it into the body shop, the man says, “Friend, you haven’t had an accident. Your car has just been rearranged.” So I turn and look at the cracked grille, the crumpled fender, the twisted bumper, and the shattered windshield. I would probably feel like responding to him, “Buddy, you’re crazy. This car isn’t rearranged. It’s wrecked.”
The Bible never asks us to pretend that tragedy isn’t tragedy or to pretend that our pain isn’t real.
The point is . . .
We must see the active involvement of God.
What happens to you and to me is not the mechanical turning of some impersonal wheel. It is not fate, or karma, or luck.
God is actively at work in your life!
Is Paul saying, “Whatever happens is good”? No.
Is he saying that suffering and evil and tragedy are good? No.
Is he saying everything will work out if we just have enough faith? No.
Is he saying that we will understand why God allowed tragedy to come? No.
What, then, is he saying?
He is erecting a sign over the unexplainable mysteries of life,
A sign that reads, “Quiet; God at work.”
How? We’re not always sure. To what end? Good, and not evil. That’s what Romans 8:28 is saying.
Little children will often be afraid at night. They are scared because they can’t see in the darkness. They cry out until at last mommy and daddy come. When they sit on the bed and take them in their arms and hold them and says, “Don’t be afraid. I’m right here with you.” The fear goes away when mommy and daddy come. So it is even with God’s children. The darkness of life frightens us until we discover that our heavenly Father is there.
The darkness is still dark, but He is there, and that makes all the difference.
Can we still believe in Romans 8:28?
Yes, but we need to start with God.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”