“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.”
Romans 8:28 NLT
This is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible, and many claim it with an “everything will be alright in the end” attitude. But there are two important provisos in Paul’s writings. Good will only come to those who love God and who are aligning their lives to God’s will, not their own. So, obviously, if we turn this around, God will not necessarily bring a good outcome to rebellious, God-deniers, who are hedonistically-inclined, and who live their lives to satisfy their own selfish desires.
Examples of God working for the good of someone in apparently impossible circumstances can be seen with the life of Joseph. In Genesis 37 we read of how Joseph was badly treated by his brothers and ended up sold as a slave in Egypt. Genesis 37:28, “So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt“. There, Joseph was sold as a slave to a soldier, but was then falsely accused by the soldier’s wife, and ended up in prison. But all was not lost – the prison warden liked Joseph. We read in Genesis 39:21, “But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favourite with the prison warden“. Through all these ordeals, Joseph still stayed close to God. We of course know the story, and how Joseph ended up interpreting Pharaoh’s dream about an impending famine, and how he was appointed to be in charge of all of Egypt. Joseph carefully and skilfully managed the impact of the famine in Egypt. The story ends with Joseph being reconciled to his brothers and he made the following astonishing statement, “God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors” (Genesis 45:7). Through astonishing and negative circumstances, God made all things in Joseph’s life work together to bring about the salvation of his family.
What about us pilgrims today? We can all claim, I’m sure, to have experienced negative circumstances. The loss of a job. A broken relationship. But do we trust God enough for Him to bring good out of bad and difficult times? We may not know why God is allowing us to experience trials and challenges but He can see the big picture and knows what is best for us. Perhaps the loss of a job, or failure to get a new one, is best for us in the long run. Some years ago, I was offered a job in a different part of the country, and it involved moving house. How was I to know that this was the first step in becoming a Christian, because the new house was located just around the corner from a Pentecostal pastor and his family. God is working behind the scenes for each one of us, and all we have to do is love Him and follow Him. We trust Him with our future, leading to that day when He calls us home.
Dear Father God. There is much more to say on this verse. But we know it’s a significant statement of your love for us. We thank You for working for us behind the scenes. we’re deeply grateful. Amen.