“And we know that for those who love God all things work together
for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” - Romans 8.28
(This is the conclusion of last week's article by Bill Massey about God working all together for our eternal joy.)
In the midst of suffering, people sometimes say, “nothing good can come out of this.” This promise in Romans 8 denies that. There are other people (this may include Christians) who actually embrace suffering. They see their suffering as something that enables them to feel superior to others. I call it the “I’ve paid my dues and I’m proud of it” theology. But this scripture passage denies that kind of thinking too. Paul is not saying that our sufferings are good in themselves. Instead, Paul is saying that God works them together for good and that enables us to rejoice in our sufferings. Our sufferings aren’t permanent. They aren’t punitive (since Christ was punished for us). They aren’t pointless either.
Our Moral Failings. Augustine used to say that not only our sufferings but our moral failings and sins are so ordered by God as to actually advance our salvation. That can be hard to believe, but it’s true. “All things” in Romans 8.28 really means all things. When you think about it, how can it be otherwise? God disciplines us as his beloved children. That assurance gives the believer confidence that we cannot finally ruin God’s good purposes for our lives.
Now don’t misunderstand! Sin is defiance of all that is truly good. Sin is the reason the Father punished His Son on the cross. We will live to regret sin’s painful consequences in our lives, but God’s grace and power are so great that He weaves our sins into our ultimate good. He uses our sins to humble us, to teach us a right view of our weakness and frailty, and to treasure His grace to us in Christ.
When I was single, I had a roommate whose grandparents had served with the U.S. Army in China before the rise of communism. These grandparents had fond memories of China and brought back to America with them some lovely reminders of their time there. One of their treasures was a beautiful silk tapestry that my friend hung on his bedroom wall. You may have seen such things. On the front of the tapestry is a beautiful scene—perhaps of a garden. But what do you see on the back? You see a mess of threads going this way and that. Yet, somehow, the weaver in his wisdom and skill had overruled it all to create a final picture of stunning beauty.
Our God is the master weaver of our lives. According to His grace and power, He works all things together for our good—the good things, the bad things, and even our moral failings. He weaves them together to make us reflect the loveliness of Christ.