Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” This verse brings a lot of comfort to a lot of people. In each of our lives, there are good things and there are bad things. Sometimes when we have illness, death of a loved one, problems, or tragic loss, we want comfort that it will all work out for good. This verse tells us that for the true children of God, all things work together for their good. But what does this verse say and what does it mean?
First of all, it does not say that only good things happen to Christians. All kinds of things happen to Christians, and some of them are bad. In the Bible we find that Steven was stoned to death. The Apostle Paul tells us that he was beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked, and spent a night in the deep, among other bad things (2 Corinthians 11). No, bad things do happen to Christians.
What the verse says is that things work together for good. I believe it is saying that God can take anything that happens to us and work it for our good. We need to see that the good is usually spiritual good and not physical. We can be spiritually better off after things happen in our lives, but we will not necessarily be better off physically. Also, we are better for eternity and not necessarily better in this life. Let me explain.
We are told that we should glory in our problems. Romans 5:3-4 “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” When tribulations or troubles come into our lives, if we take them correctly, they can bring perseverance and develop our character; we can develop the characteristics that God wants us to have. If our eyes are only on our physical, earthly existence, then tribulations may bring great stress and heartache to us. But if we see the spiritual benefit of tribulations, we can glory in them because then we can see how God works in our lives. This requires our faith and trust in God.
We need to look beyond this earthly life. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Our problems may see very weighty. But relative to the great benefits of our eternal existence with God, they, in reality, are light. Stated another way, the relatively light affliction or problems in our lives work for us an eternal benefit that greatly exceeds any disadvantage we experience in this life. This requires our faith and trust in God.
So, all things do work together for our good if we love the Lord and are called by him. But the good is usually spiritual good and the ultimate realization of the good will be in our eternal existence with God.