Good Friday morning ...
Do all things really work for good?
That's what Paul says. But is it true? Do you KNOW it to be true? Most of us are perhaps not as sure as Paul. It's probably more like we HOPE all things work for good ... but do we really KNOW that to be true?
And what about the ALL THINGS? We might go so far as to say some things. But ALL THINGS?
I'm guessing you would say that sickness is not good, and murder is not good; divorce is not good, nor is suicide or the death of a child; certainly, depression is not good, and we ALL agree that COVID-19 is NOT good!
But, hey, this verse is in the Bible and it won't go away. So, the question comes down to: Can we still believe in Romans 8:28?
We will never properly understand this verse unless God is at the beginning where He belongs. Some of us position God at the end of the verse. And some people look at life that way. They believe life is like a roll of the dice, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. And they believe that after a tragedy, then God MIGHT show up to make everything come out right ... but, then again, He might not!
But that is not the biblical view at all!
In reality, God is there at the beginning; He is there at the end; and He is there at every point in between. God is at work. Not luck, not chance, not fate. This, by the way, answers the question. "Where is God when it hurts?" According to this verse, God is there before the hurt happened; He is there when it happens; and He is still there when it is over. That puts an end to the happy-ever-after feeling that "No matter what happens, God will turn it into a blessing." That's fine for fairy tales ... but not for real life.
What do you say when a child dies? Or when a cop is killed by a drug dealer? Or when a missionary dies on the mission field? Or a woman is cheated out of her inheritance? Or a marriage falls apart after 38 years? Or when a friend dies of COVID-19? It is hard to see how any of these things are good.
God never asks us to pretend that tragedy isn't real or that our pain isn't real. What He does ask is that we see His active involvement in everything. What happens to you and to me is not the mechanical turning of some impersonal wheel. It is not fate or kismet or karma or luck. God is actively at work!
So, is Paul saying, whatever happens is good? Of course not!
Is he saying that suffering and evil and tragedy are good? Absolutely not.
Is he saying everything will work out if we just have enough faith? Not at all.
Is he saying that we will come to understand why God allowed a tragedy to befall us? No.
What then is he saying? Basically, Paul is erecting a sign over the unexplainable mysteries of life, a sign that reads: GOD IS AT WORK!
How is He at work? We're not always sure because that is up to the mind of God. To what end is He working? Well, certainly for good, not evil. That's what "for the good of those who love Him" is all about.
Little children will often become frightened at night. They are scared sometimes because they can't see in the darkness. They cry out until at last daddy comes. He sits on the edge of the bed and takes them in his arms and holds them and says, "Don't be afraid! I'm right here with you!" And the fear goes away. It's still dark. They still can't see. But daddy's there! And the fear subsides.
The darkness of life frightens big people too. That is, until we discover that our heavenly Father is there in the darkness. The darkness is still dark, the storm is still raging, the pain is still throbbing ... but God is there too ... and that makes all the difference!
Here is Paul's declaration: "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]
Have a great weekend in the Lord ... believing through darkness ...