“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, HCSB).
This familiar verse is probably one of the most often quoted, yet, often misunderstood verses in the Bible!
We generally quote the verse and its promise to someone who has suffered tragedy or misfortune or we claim its promise for ourselves when we personally encounter tragedy or misfortune.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there is some very powerful theology embedded in this verse. It’s just that we sometimes misapply or misappropriate it to our lives!
On one hand, we interpret Romans 8:28 to mean that God does bad things to us (or allows bad things to happen to us) to drive us back into line with His will.
We were bad so God caused something bad to happen to us so we’ll start being good!
On the other hand, we interpret Romans 8:28 to mean that God will take the bad things that happen to us and turn them into good things.
The problem with these interpretations is that both views cause you to miss out on the powerful promise that’s contained in Romans 8:28.
The promise of restoration!
Both views impede what God actually wants to do in your life when you encounter adversity.
God doesn’t cause bad things to happen to us to make us obey Him nor does He change the bad things that happen to us into good things!
Bad things happen because we live in a fallen world.
When I have encountered tragedy in my life, I find that I wake up each day and the tragic event has still occurred and its residual grief, stress, frustration, or sadness is still felt deeply and the havoc that it has reaped in my life and others is still evident.
So am I being cynical and sterilizing this potent promise, this powerful theology, with cynicism?
Not at all. I’m not being cynical, I’m being a realist.
I want to show you how the wonderful promise contained in Romans 8:28 can have a transformative effect on your life when you understand God’s reality as it is explained in this verse.
After all, God really, really wants you to experience His reality. His reality, not our version of it.
The fundamental basis for forming a relationship with God is restoration. God created a perfect world. That perfect world has become imperfect; it has fallen from its original splendor because of rebellion, specifically, humanity’s rebellion against God’s plans.
God wants to restore this world and humanity from its fallen state to a perfect state. God wants to restore this world so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to live and die as a human being for it, for us.
So restoration is God’s purpose. And our redemption has always been God’s plan since before the creation of the world, and will always be His plan even to eternity.
And God not only wants to redeem and restore this world, He wants to redeem and restore you!
He redeemed you from your fallen state when you first believed in Jesus. Now, God wants to restore you everyday of your life as you struggle in this fallen world to live for Him. And He especially wants to restore you when you encounter hardship and suffering.
That’s how a relationship with God works–restoration!
But God does not restore you by removing the problem. If you think that, then you are missing the blessing of the Romans 8:28 promise.
God wants to apply the healing balm of restoration to your problems as you seek refuge from your difficulties under the protection of His love and grace.
He wants to draw you into His lovingkindness, His mercy, His redeeming love!
And He’s so mighty, so powerful, that evil and the consequences of evil are inconsequential to God.
Nothing, not even evil and the bad that it produces, can thwart God’s good purposes or prevent God’s love. So much so, that God even uses evil to accomplish His redemptive plans and purposes.
The bad of this world can never stand in the way of God’s good: “Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39, NLT).
Wow! God’s love is incredible, amazing, incredibly amazing!
God is almighty and, therefore, makes all things, even evil, even tragedy or misfortune, work together for His good purposes!
When bad things happen to you, God puts your life back in sync! He realigns your life for you. He restores you to His will!
So the marvelous promise of Romans 8:28 should not be stored away to be grabbed off the shelf when tragedy strikes. It’s a way of life. It’s the way we maintain a relationship with God!
God restores you. God continuously synchronizes your life with His plans and purposes when you love Him and seek His will as the way for your life.
“Whatever has been born of God conquers the world” (1 John 5:4, HCSB).