Romans provides one of the most often quoted verses in the Bible. Of a certainty, this verse has been an anchor for those undergoing hardships since Paul first penned the line some 2,000 years ago. It contains a truth that allows us to accept what we cannot understand. It shows us the rose that is nourished by life’s rain storms. It helps us to hope when there doesn’t appear to be any hope.
Romans 8:28 tells us that “all things” are working together for good. “All things” include everything: love, honor, blessings, trials, sickness, even death – “all things.” You name it. Good times as well as bad. “All things” are working together; nothing out of place. God has purposed “all things” for good. “All things” therefore work together as means to this end; even when it doesn’t seem like it to us.
The verse also says that “we know” all these things are working together for good. The Greek word that is translated here as “know” is “oida.” It indicates an observational knowledge; a knowing of something that is evident; something that needs no explanation. In this case, “we know that all things work together for good” because it is plainly obvious, it is clearly seen, that “all things” are a part of God’s plan and purpose. We understand “all things” to be working together for good, because God’s purpose is for good.
This knowledge helps us up when we fall down; it gives us peace in the midst of a storm; it puts the wind in our sails and propels us along the ocean journey of our Christian life. We know that hard times come – they will come – but that does not defeat the purpose of God. To the contrary, the difficulties we face actually form an elementary part of God’s purpose. We only know the enjoyment of the good by the contrasted experience of the bad. The valleys are not to be desired as the mountain peaks are, and yet the lushest growth occurs in the valley. These things are obvious. So “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
I recently attended my dad’s funeral. Given the opportunity, I delivered the simple (and yet profound) message of Romans 8:28. On such a solemn occasion, we did not join together to grieve the loss of a loved one, but to rejoice over his passage into glory. We celebrated his going home. My brother then played “Amazing Grace” on the piano. It was very beautiful and fitting.
I miss my dad and I know I always will. I also know that “all things work together for good,” even though I may not always have an understanding of God’s purpose. His ways are so much higher than our own. We should be thankful that it is His purpose, since our own understanding is limited and our own purpose is self-serving. God works “all things” together “for good to them” that love Him. That “good” is a personal and individual good given to us by a loving God working all things together.