Have you ever enjoyed the beauty of a finely crafted tapestry? Many varicolored strands are woven together to form a feast for the eyes. As pretty as a tapestry may be on the front, however, it actually appears disastrous on the back. The life of a child of God is often the same way.
The back of a tapestry seems to be clashing colors tied together in bazaar combinations, without rhyme or reason. It’s hard to imagine something that looks so disorganized on one side, can appear so orderly and beautiful on the other. Christians often suffer painfully seemingly without any reason at all, yet an all-powerful God is at work turning their trials into a tapestry.
Romans 8:28 has given comfort to God’s people for nearly 2,000 years. It says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Several observations highlight the splendor of God’s promise.
First, notice the comprehensive nature of the promise. The verse assures us that ALL things in a believer’s life are working together for good. That means every good thing that happens works for good. The birth of a new baby, a pay raise, the new job, and the vacation to Florida are all part of God’s good master plan for his children.
But this verse also teaches that bad things, even horrible tragedies, are at work as well. Paul did not say that all things are good, but he did insist that all things are working for ultimate good. So when tornadoes slash through the neighborhood, a career ending injury occurs, or when it rains the entire week in Florida, God is still sovereignly behind the scenes working out his master plan for those who love him.
Another observation about this promise is that the ultimate end is good. The next verse unfolds the meaning of the good outcome. “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29).
God is working to use these good, bad, and ugly events and circumstances to shape people into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. As Christians we often experience our most profound times of growth during times of difficulty. This verse explains that God himself allows the difficult trial on purpose and for a purpose. Do I mean God doesn’t always want you to be healthy and happy with a full tummy? It has been well said that God is more concerned with your holiness than your happiness. Trials are one of God’s favorite ways to get you there (see James 1:2-6).
Some suggest that God would never bring suffering into a person’s life, especially a Christian’s. This promise asserts that the opposite is true. God is sovereignly at work even in the times of most profound suffering. Far from draining our hope, realizing this truth ought to give us comfort and joy since our God is at work in the midst of the tragedy, and is using it to produce Christ’s character within us. Trials go from unexplainable and meaningless to profoundly purposeful, even though we will not understand all that God is doing at the moment.
The third observation about Romans 8:28 is about the identity of the objects of this grand promise. The verse declares that those who love God and are called according to his purpose are the ones to whom God will orchestrate this good outcome. These phrases describe Christians. Christians are God-lovers. Being called according to God’s purpose refers to the effectual call by which God calls sinners to faith in Christ.
Romans 8:30 says: “and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” In this context, all of the called ones are justified and glorified, therefore this calling is internal and effective, as opposed to the general call of everyone to salvation. So, if you are a Christian, you are qualified to partake of this wonderful promise.
While life sometimes seems out of control, chaotic, and harsh, remember that you are looking at the back of the tapestry. God is sovereignly at work on the other side. His plan is good. In spite of the ugly looking knots of trial and tragedy, God is working them into a beautiful pattern of Christlikeness in every one of his children.
Are you one of his children? Have you ever repented of your sins, and given your life to Christ by faith? If so, this promise is for you. If you are trusting Christ for your salvation, are you living like you believe Romans 8:28-30? Do you complain about your difficulties? Are you bitter about your life? Are you depressed about your situation at work? Our verse reveals the right perspective for all of these woes––God is working and it is going to be really good. Rejoice and be grateful in the shining light of the certain promise of Almighty God!
By John Crotts