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All Things Work Together for Good

In Romans 8:28, the Scripture says, "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."  For those of us who are described in this verse, this knowledge is a source of tremendous comfort and confidence.  It means that no matter what we may endure, all things will work out for our good.  This confidence is founded upon the power of God, for it is He who causes the outcome of good.  Furthermore, it is evidenced by our love for Him and our answer to His call.

The key to accepting God's guarantee of ultimate good is faith.  That which "we know" according to Romans 8:28 is known only by faith, for we have not yet seen how all things will work together for good.  In fact, much of what we now see does not appear to be good at all. Sin, suffering, and death show no signs of good that can be seen with the eyes.  Even so, the presence of faith enables us to have an understanding of life that transcends sight.  Just a few verses earlier in this same section of Scripture, Paul expressed this faithful outlook when he wrote, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Rom. 8:18).  Indeed, none of us has seen this future glory, but by faith we believe that it will be far greater than the present sufferings we now see.  Notice 2Corinthians 4:17-18:

17For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

How can we have faith that God causes all things to work out for our good?  Our faith in the ultimate good of present and future events is established by our faith in God's goodness toward us in the past. His kindness and mercy is witnessed in many things, but the greatest outpouring of His love for us was in the sacrifice of His own Son for the forgiveness of our sins.  The connection between our faith in the past and our faith in the future is given in Romans 8:32, which says, "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?"  Indeed, the sacrifice of Christ proves that God seeks our good, for He paid the price of His Son's precious blood to accomplish it (1Pet. 1:18-19).  We believe in this proof because it is proclaimed in the gospel, and our faith comes by hearing the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17).  Because we have faith in the past events of the gospel, we must also have faith that God will cause all things to work out for our good in the future.

Having obtained faith in God, we have the hope of seeing all things eventually working for our good.  The connection between faith and hope is seen in the definition of faith given in Hebrews 11:1, which says, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."  Of course, hope only exists for those things that have not yet been received.  Here is the difficulty of our present circumstances, for we must wait for God's ultimate good while we endure the sufferings of this world.  Consider Romans 8:24-25:

24For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?  25But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

If we hope that God will cause all things to work out for our good, then we will eagerly wait for this result, for it will be well worth the wait.  Even if the wait is long and difficult, we will remain faithful to Him because we have this hope as "an anchor of the soul" (Heb. 6:19).

Having considered these things, let us notice that God does not promise a good outcome for everyone.  Instead, the promise is only for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.  We love God if we love our brothers and sisters in Christ and keep His commandments (John 14:15; 1John 4:19-5:3).  We are called according to His purpose when we respond to the call of the gospel of Christ (Rom. 8:29-30; 2Thess. 2:14).  If these traits belong to us, then we are recipients of God's promise of ultimate goodness.  Therefore, we will not despair of sickness, sorrow, pain, poverty, persecution, loneliness, death, or any other worldly trial, but rather we will trust in God, who "causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."

Stacey E. Durham



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