The Good in the Bad (2)
Bible Reading: Romans 8
Romans 8:28 (NASB), “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.”
I decided to spend another devotional focusing on this important verse, which is arguably one of the most memorized and quoted of all verses in the Bible. Rightly so, for the truth of it has provided so much comfort to so many. It serves as a kind of hinge-point in the chapter. Preceding we’ve read of how we are told to expect to endure suffering in this world. Amidst that suffering, we groan, yearning for the redemption of our bodies. And we hope, with the Spirit-borne confidence, God will fulfill His promises to us. The theme in the forthcoming verses has to do with our security and triumph. If God is for us, who can stand against us? Christ Himself is interceding for us! Nothing can separate us from His love. So, there is suffering now, even as we anticipate the triumph which is to come.
Romans 8:28 instructs us in important truths regarding God’s providence which will encourage our hearts amidst our present suffering. That’s one reason why this verse is so often quoted. I’ve witnessed the testimony of folks who have endured horrific ills, yet they speak of how they were strengthened by the wonderful promise we find here.
At the heart of this verse is the reality God can bring good out of bad. That’s a message which transcends the entirety of Scripture—from the fall of man in Genesis 3 to the restoration of things in Revelation 22. Central to everything is the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. Man’s radical depravity was unveiled on the evil day Jesus was nailed to the cross. Evil conspired to do its worst. So, in one sense, it was an awful and tragic day when Jesus died. But the badness of that bad led to a good result which is of transcendent import, for Jesus rose from the dead! It is by means of His death for our sins and His resurrection from the dead that we’ve been saved from our sins. Noteworthy is the fact God was able to use the evil acts of sinful men to accomplish His predetermined plan, thus bringing good out of bad (Acts 2:23).
God is well able to bring good out of bad because of who He is. Because He is good and does good, He has the heart to work things together for good in our lives. Because He works all things according to the counsel of His will, there is nothing we or anyone else can do to thwart Him. He is all powerful. Not even death itself could prevent Him from achieving His purpose. In wisdom He carefully orchestrates the details or our lives in unseen ways.
In the “all things” spoken of there are all kinds of things—what we consider to be good and deem to be bad and even what we find to be ugly. How helpful it is to know God is sovereignly at work to use them all in accomplishing His good purpose in our lives.
Randy Alcorn once offered some helpful insights on this verse. Pointing out the verse doesn’t say that each individual thing is good, but that God works them together for good, Randy recalled how he often watched his mother bake cakes. One day when she had all the ingredients set out–flour, sugar, baking powder, raw egg, vanilla–he sneaked a taste of each one. Except for the sugar, they all tasted horrible. Then his mother stirred them together and put the batter in the oven. “It didn’t make sense to me,” he recalls, “that the combination of individually distasteful things produced such a tasty product.” He concluded that God likewise “takes all the undesirable stresses in our lives, mixes them together, puts them under the heat of crisis, and produces a perfect result.”
UNDER HIS WINGS
Under His wings I am safely abiding;
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him–I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me and I am His child.
Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.
Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blessed. (Refrain)
Under His wings, O what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life’s trials are o’er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus I’m safe evermore. (Refrain)