- All Things for Good
- Romans 8:28
- Lyndol Loyd October 27, 2019
This morning we continue on in our series The Romans 8 Life as we take a deep dive into this single chapter of scripture.
- There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.
- God’s power is available to help us live beyond the control of sin.
- Nothing we face now compares to the future glory we will experience in eternity.
Today, we pause to consider a single verse of scripture, Romans 8:28, so that we might understand what it is saying and what it isn’t saying.
It is an old familiar story, one we have all heard and lived. It is a season of life when you are feeling close to God – trusting Him, living clean, sensing His blessing. Then the phone rings and a voice says, “Are you sitting down?” Or a registered letter arrives and something in your gut knots up before you open it. Out of the blue the HR director calls you into her office. The police knock on your door at 3:00 a.m. and you do a lightning quick mental inventory of which family member is not home.
In the space of time it takes a human heart to beat, everything in your life can be turned upside down. In that moment you think, “This cannot be true. Not me. Not us. Not now. God, where are you?”
In the middle of loss, pain, adversity, senseless violence, and the brokenness of this life, God’s Word speaks: Romans 8:28 “28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Sometimes Romans 8:28 is an immediate source of hope and comfort. At other times it can stretch our capacity to believe. We can find ourselves wondering, “How can this turn into something that’s good? Really? How can God possibly bring good out of this? I just don’t see it.”
THE 3 PLACES WE LIVE All of God’s best people have experienced suffering and struggle; the Bible and history affirm this truth again and again. The question is not, “Will I ever experience pain?” BUT, “How will I respond when pain comes into my life?” All of us live in one of three primary locations in relationship to pain.
The first is BP (Before Pain.) Some people live the first ten or twenty years of their life without experiencing any kind of debilitating tragedy or loss. For those who are still in this season, Romans 8:28 might feel a bit theoretical, but it’s a truth they must accept nevertheless.
The second location is IP (In Pain.) People in the midst of adversity must hear Romans 8:28 and muse, “If that verse weren’t in my Bible, I would think the world is completely out of control. Even with that verse, there are moments I wonder if it is possible that God can bring something good out of what I am facing today. But I’m going to hang on and do all I can to trust God despite the pain.” Romans 8:28 can become a lifeline in these times.
Finally, many people are living AP (After Pain.) They have walked through the fire and come out the others side with a glimpse of God’s glory. It is not that everything makes sense. But they have a deepening awareness that God has taken something from the dunghill of pain and evil and grown a beautiful thing that can bring Him honor and even bless other people. For those who are living on the other side of pain, Romans 8:28 is a treasure.
The sobering reality is that this life takes us through a cycle of living BP, IP and AP. At any given moment, a faithful follower of Jesus can be in any one of these three places.
Read Romans 8:28 and you begin to understand that God is on the move. He is active. He is at work. No matter what we might face, his inseparable love drives Him to bring something good out of the hardships of this life.
EVEN IF we end up in a painful situation because of our own rebellion or sin, God can still bring good out of it. Even when the enemy of our soul attacks and seeks to hurt us, God is so committed to his children that He can bring good from these situations.
He REFUSES these situations to amount to wasted circumstances in our lives. The God who calls us to follow Him is deeply committed to our good.
There is nothing we face that God does not see. He is aware of our struggles and pain. This does NOT mean He will always remove them. It does mean He will be with us no matter what we face.
As followers of Jesus, we can know for a fact that we are loved by God, our heavenly Father. And so we can live with confidence in the promise that He can bring something redemptive, good, and honoring out of the worst situations.
WHAT ROMANS 8:28 IS NOT SAYING… ALL THINGS WORK OUT Romans 8:28 has been so twisted and misused over the years that it is important to clarify exactly what it is not saying. This verse does not say that all things are guaranteed to work out.
It CANNOT be sculpted into a promise that everything will work out with a “Happily Every After.” We do not live on such a fairytale planet, and God’s Word never ensures that all circumstances will work for our pleasure or comfort or add to our net worth.
Instead, this verse says that the transcendent God, the Creator of the world, the all-powerful One who raised Jesus from the dead, gets elbow deep in the storyline of your life.
He supernaturally weaves the events, even the tragedies in such a way that at some point you will look in the rearview mirror and be able to say, “As awful and as painful as that era was, I can now see that God brought some good out of it.”
Some people try to comfort themselves and others by saying, “It will all work out!” or “Things always work out for the best.” This is NOT true, and it is certainly not the message of Romans 8:28.
The Bible does NOT promise that everything will somehow magically work out in a way that pleases us and makes us happy. As a matter of fact, sometimes things might end up exactly the opposite of what we think would be best and good.
Sometimes things end up bad, sad and painful. Yet God is saying to his people, in this passage that He can accomplish amazing and good things through bad situations.
WHAT ROMANS 8:28 IS NOT SAYING…. “GOD CAUSES ALL THINGS.” Romans 8:28 is not saying that God causes all things. Although God is sovereign and all-powerful, other forces are still at work in the universe. Sometimes we face suffering and pain because of the presence and work of Satan.
Sometimes we are hurt by the choices of other people. Sometimes we suffer because of natural disasters that come with living in this physical world. To top it off, we can make poor choices and cause our own pain.
God does NOT want the blame for these things and we should not give it to Him. Doing so becomes the source of disappointment and disillusionment.
The Bible doesn’t teach that God causes everything that happens in the universe or in our lives. The Bible DOES teach that God is sovereign, powerful and loving.
But other forces are at work, and God does not always intervene and stop bad things from happening. What are some of these forces that can bring about pain, suffering, and loss in the world?
SATAN: Scripture is very clear that an evil force is at work in this world. He is called among other names, Satan, Lucifer, the devil, the evil one, the tempter. His plan is to steal, kill and destroy. His strategic plan is to throw wrenches into our lives that will lead to heartache of every kind imaginable.
NATURAL LAW: Living in a fallen world also causes suffering and pain. Rising tides, airborne diseases, the laws of physics and gravity and economics, and so much more create great grief and struggle in this life. When people build homes along the edge of a river that typically floods every six years, is it really an act of God when their living room ends up under water?
OTHER PEOPLE: Because we live in marriages, in families, in communities, the choices of others can hurt us. When a man or woman says, “Until death do us part,” and then walks away from a marriage because they no longer feel satisfied, that choice hurts a spouse, kids, family and friends. When someone gets drunk and drives a car, they endanger themselves and others. This is NOT the doing of God.
PERSONAL SINS: Let’s be honest and face up to the fact that much of the suffering we face in this life is self-induced. When we make unwise choices, act on sinful impulses, and rebel against God’s will, it always ends up in pain. This is our own doing, not the work of God.
WHAT ROMANS 8:28 IS NOT SAYING… ALL THINGS BRING GOOD FOR EVERYONE Romans 8:28 does NOT say that God works for the good of everybody who walks the face of the earth. Through God is loving and longs that all people would come to faith in Him, this verse does NOT guarantee the same work of God for all people. There is a special way that God brings good out of evil and broken situations for those who are called His children.
When you begin a relationship with the heavenly Father through faith in Jesus Christ, He extends you a special provision. You have entered a new life and are called according to His purpose. No matter what you face, God can bring good out of it for his glory! Those who are still on the other side of the cross do not have the same assurance.
God holds a special place in his heart for those who are His children. This is not to say that God loves only certain people. It was God who so loved the whole world that he sent His only Son to die for our sins. God loves all people and Christ died for all who will receive and believe.
But when a woman or man opens their heart to receive Jesus by faith, a new kind of relationship is forged. We become children of the almighty God, a part of his family.
He watches over us in a special way. When this happens, God guarantees that no matter what we might face, he can bring good out of it. It does not matter if the suffering was self-induced, caused by Satan, or the result of a natural disaster. In all things God can work good… for those who are called his children.
WHAT ROMANS 8:28 IS SAYING It is a mind-blowing promise that no matter what pain, suffering, or loss you face in this life, God will eventually weave it into something that brings glory to His name and goodness to this broken world.
You might look back and still call a tragedy a tragedy. The memory of what you felt or lost could still bring tears to your eyes and somberness to your heart. But though you may never fully grasp the how, you will realize that our gracious and mighty God has brought good out of evil, hope out of pain, glory out of loss.
It occurs to me that some of you are here this morning and that right now you are IN PAIN. I’d like to speak directly to you for a moment. Both the Old and New Testament clearly teach that suffering is part of the journey of following God. The idea that “Good Christians” will never suffer is a contortion of scripture and diametrically opposed to life experience. If we buy into that kind of thinking it can leave us stalled out in our faith and only asking, “Why me? Why now?”
If you are listening to my voice right now and you are in pain, I want you to know that God sees you, He hears you and He wants to meet you at the point of your every need.
It might be that for you it feels impossible to imagine how God could ever take the situation or circumstances that you are facing and find a way to turn it around and use it for good.
In moments when we feel that way it is important for us to rehearse in our minds what we know to be true about our God. He is loving. He is just. He is gracious. He is forgiving. He is merciful. He is faithful. He is trustworthy. That is the character of our God.
Because we know those things to be true about Him, we can trust that our loving, just, gracious, forgiving, merciful, faithful, trustworthy God will not allow the difficult, painful, challenging and hurtful circumstances of our lives to merely be wasted.
Hear me when I tell you that you are his dearly loved child and that He will be faithful to take whatever you are experiencing and find a way to turn it around and use it for good in your life when you live as one who is called according to His purposes.