"All things work together for good…” ~ Really?

Have any of you ever been in a situation where you doubted that verse (Romans 8:28) was true? Have any of you ever been told that verse by a caring friend and you really didn’t find it helpful? Or how about those times when you were so overloaded you couldn’t take on one more thing ~ and then one more thing happens?

I was with a couple of friends this one time. I picked up my phone and noticed it was dead. Turns out…it was dead. So I headed to Best Buy the next day. It was one of those days; an incredibly busy day for me and the last thing I really needed was try to replace my phone. So I got there early; 9:10 to find out the store opens at 10:00. At 10:00.

I was far enough away from home that if I went home I would pretty well have to turn around and come back. What was I going to do for 50 minutes? I didn’t need any more interruptions that day. How do you kill time in a mall where the stores don't even open until 9:30. 

I found a couch. Sat down. Closed my eyes and thought “How do all things work together for good?” Then I remembered that I had been asking Holy Spirit for some good examples

I said, “You know Holy Spirit, I have enough examples of this in my past. I really wasn’t asking for a new one. I just wanted you to remind me of some old ones.” The interesting thing about this is that I had my example before I figured out what the good was. I’m sitting there with a broken phone, in a mall with nothing open, on a day that I could not afford the time; not an overly “good” thing ~ and I had no idea what “good” was going to come of it. 50 minutes to kill and living in an illustration in the making. So I headed to Starbucks. Bought a nice green tea frap, borrowed a pen and grabbed some napkins. And I asked Holy Spirit to show me more about this verse. Here’s a few good things that emerged from having to kill 50 minutes in the mall.

I discovered that this verse is talking about a partnership. God is working together with those who love him.  

I actually went home and checked it out in the Greek and found that was true. When bad things happen, it’s hard to think about good. Bad doesn’t go through some kind of mystical metamorphosis and turn into good. Bad is always bad. It’s never good that you break your leg, have your car stolen, have a loved one die; sit in prison for 20 years. I think I struggled with this verse because it seemed that I was being told bad things were somehow good for me. It felt like if I didn’t embrace them as good, I wasn’t believing God. That’s not true. Bad things are bad.

The partnership comes in my response to bad things. I am either reacting to what’s happening or am I trusting in a relationship I have with my Creator. He and I have a deal. He loves me. He will take care of me. His gifts are perfect and good. He promises to protect me; never allow a temptation to be so strong that I can’t escape from it. If I have needs, he has promised to provide. 

So when bad things happen, which has greater impact on my life? The situation unfolding or Jesus ~ who promised to be my Advocate?

I am always responsible for my attitude. We will always miss finding the good in difficult times when we stay focused on our loss. Every struggle has a loss. Yet all wisdom is gained through an element of surrender. To learn a new truth, you must either change or expand on an old one. It’s a wisdom update. When new updates come to your computer, they’re always there to fix and improve the program we were using before. If you’re going to gain wisdom, you are going to have to move on in your thinking and beliefs.

If we lose the capacity to surrender, we lose the capacity to learn, to grow and to discern. 

All growth involves an element of loss ~ of moving on. 

When we don’t believe “all things work together towards our good,” we will not look for good. Even if it stares at us, we often miss it because we’re looking at something else. 

I was talking to a friend of mine who was supposed to send me a check at the beginning of April. It never came. ~ It went well with my broken phone, my dysfunctional water heater that both flooded my basement, ruined my flooring and spewed carbon monoxide through my office for 8 months, and eventually my leaking heat pump. God blessed me that month with so many incredible examples of things that can work out for good. 

I’ve lived long enough to realize that pain and suffering have been my greatest teachers and in some ways, my closest friends. Without them my life would not have the richness and purpose that it does today. I don’t ever want to relive some of the horrible experiences in my life, but neither do I wish I had never experienced them. When “shift” happens, I’ve come to realize there’s a benefit coming that I will be able to identify later. 

“In all things God works together with those who love him to bring about what is good—with those who have been called according to his purpose.” - Romans 8:28

David Collins

David Collins is our interim lead pastor! He is the founder of Canadian Food for the Hungry International, the Global Hunger Foundation, and Paradigm Ministries. He's been a pastor, CEO, consultant and mentor. He and his wife have worked abroad to seek sustainable solutions in the midst of human cruelty and natural disasters. Author of two books, David continues to help people understand the power of ideas and how someone's motives correspond to Biblical integrity.