Everyday Encounter with God

Pastor Sylvia's Encounters with God in the Midst of Everyday Life


And We Know It

This week I took a closer look at one of the most quoted verses in the New Testament. Romans 8:28 reads, “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." It sounds glorious, almost too good to be true. How can we be sure?

Often when I hear this quoted, the speaker prematurely stops after the word “good.” We want the assurance that God is fully in control and that nothing totally bad will ever happen to us. But we can’t just skip over the second half of the verse, “…of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."

Paul was addressing real believers, those who have chosen Jesus Christ and dedicated their lives to loving him and emulating him. Romans 8 doesn’t mean we can live any way we choose and expect God to fix all our messes.

I grew up watching the television show “Laugh In.” At the end of some skits there was a cartoon man who walked across the screen with a broom and dust pan, sweeping up the mess as he went. God isn’t like that man.

What the verse is really saying is “When we (Christians) are doing our very best and bad/sad/evil/events or people touch our lives, God will use the experience to ultimately bring about good in our lives and in the lives of others.”

Joni Eareckson Tada, is an inspirational speaker, author, and singer. She is also a quadriplegic who has been confined to a wheelchair for more than 40 years. When people ask her why God allows suffering, she often says, “God allows what He hates to accomplish what He loves.” Joni’s life and ministry are a stunning testimony of how God can use a tragedy like a paralyzing accident to impact millions of people.

What does God want most? For people to enter into relationship with Him.

Also, Romans 8:28 doesn’t say that all things are good. It says God can use all things for good. There is nothing intrinsically good about cancer, tornadoes, sex trafficking, and infant death. It’s even hard for me to find good in every life experience that hurts my feelings, bruises my self-worth, and rocks my emotions. Sin is sin and this scripture isn’t meant to put a happy face emoji on it.

Instead it reminds us that God is more powerful than the people and situations that hurt us. He can redeem the worst of mankind’s selfishness. As my grandmother sagely said, “Only God can make a purse out of a sow’s ear.”

When I am in the midst of self-doubt because my prayers haven’t been answered as quickly as I want, and my intentions haven’t gotten me where I want to go, and I’m sick and tired of resisting temptation when other people seem to be having a good time, I need to stop. God allows everything we experience for one of two purposes: either to bring us into a relationship with Himself or to form us into the image of His Son.

For me, the greatest comfort in Romans 8:28 is the first three words, “And we know.” Adrian Rogers spoke in the Billy Graham training seminar, “Rising Above Your Circumstances.” I’ll never forget what she said. “This is not conjecture. This is not happenstance. This is not perhaps. This is not maybe. This is ironclad certainty. We know that all things work together for good...”

God never wastes the suffering of His children. And we know it.