If you are anything like me, you are familiar with this verse. You have probably heard it a million times. Maybe you have used these words to comfort a loved one or have been comforted by them. But I want to ask you today, are you experiencing this promise in your own life? I can honestly say there was a time in my life when things were NOT working. I did everything in my power to force them, which only made matters worse. But why were things not working out? Why were they not working together for good? Doesn't God promise this? I truly didn’t understand.
I want to unpack a couple life altering truths from this one little verse. After mapping through Romans 8:28, I realized that I had been misunderstanding this promise! I had to evaluate my heart against these new truths that were revealed to me and my hope is that you will also evaluate yours.
First, we know that all things work together for those who love God.
Do I love God? That seems like such an easy question with an easy answer…until I understood what ‘loving God’ actually refers to in Romans 8:28. Loving God means that you prefer to live through Christ. It means you embrace HIS will; you choose HIS choices. It means you are promptly obedient and have affectionate reverence for Him.
Friend, I was not loving God in the way that was required. That is so hard to admit because I was deceived into thinking I was. I was deceived into thinking that church was enough and that praying occasionally was enough and that having a high regard for God was enough.
This was the first condition that I was failing to meet. I was expecting God to work all things out for my good and yet I wasn’t even loving Him in the way I was supposed to. I wasn’t embracing His will, I wasn’t choosing His choices, I wasn’t being promptly obedient. I had trusted Jesus with my soul but I neglected to give Him my heart and my life.
Do you know what happens when we love God in the way Romans 8:28 tells us? It’s incredible! It will rock your world! He becomes a co-laborer with us! The Greek word used is ‘sunergoe’ which means “a fellow worker, associate helper”. God begins working alongside us and providing all things so it will be WELL FOR THE ONE WHO LOVES HIM! I could cry just writing this. It is such a beautiful picture. Having God as a co-laborer in our life is worth any changes that we need to make!
The second truth is that all things work together for those called according to His purpose.
There is so much hope in knowing that God has a purpose! He has an 'end view' that includes you and me becoming more Christ-like! But it is only after we surrender to the will of God that He begins working all things out for our good. Our hearts must be in alignment with His! The Greek word for ‘according’ used here is ‘kata’, which is ‘an agreement to a standard’. When we are in agreement with God’s standard, He begins working out all the junk in our lives. How many of us are desperately waiting for God to work in our lives, yet are living in opposition to His Word?!
I could write a book on the junk that God has worked out in my own life. It is incredible to look back and see how He has used the darkness from my past to cast light into my future. How strange little details began to work together as part of a bigger, more beautiful picture. But my eyes and my heart have also been opened to seasons God has led me through, seasons of chastening and of trials. Seasons where I waited for things to fall into place only to grow frustrated when nothing did. Seasons that lasted probably way longer than they needed to because I was resistant to surrendering. I assumed salvation was equivalent to loving God and took these promises for granted, believing my actions and behavior were irrelevant to their fulfillment. I thought the promises of God were just that, promises. Period. I now realize that there are conditions to some of the promises that God has given us. It’s only when we understand our responsibility that we begin to see their fulfillment.
Romans 5:3-4 says that we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. That’s the beauty of loving God, embracing His will, choosing His choices, and being obedient. When we are doing our part by aligning our hearts and our lives with His Word, we can rest in knowing that the trials we now face are being used to strengthen and grow us. Our co-laborer is right there in the midst and He is working all things together for good! There is glory in our perseverance! Trust, obey, and don’t lose faith. Hold tight to His promise. God will do the rest. In His time, He will work all things for good.
Digging deeper: Are there things in your life that made no sense as you went through them but now, looking back, are the perfect part of a bigger picture? Have you gone through seasons that maybe lasted longer than they needed because you didn’t want to surrender or change?