"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."
-Romans 8:28-30 (ESV)
My husband is one who hates waste. If he can find a purpose for something, he will. It's a wonderful quality to have, except when I want pizza instead of eating the almost-gone-bad spinach (but I can usually win that one). God is much the same way. He doesn't waste. He works all things together for a singular purpose.
This promise makes the bold statement that God works all things for 'good.' Well, that can be confusing to anyone who turns on the news for even a split second. There is a lot of evil, sadness and injustice in the world. Not everything that happens in my life feels good, I can tell you that. So, let's talk about the word 'good' for a minute. Good is from the Greek word agathos, meaning "useful or salutary (promoting or conducive to some beneficial purpose); of a good constitution or nature (equivalent to fertile soil or a fruitful tree; corresponds to good ground and denotes a soul inclined to goodness and eager to learn saving truth, ready to bear fruits)". You see, oftentimes, our definition of good doesn't line up with God's definition of good because we have a finite perspective of life, whereas God has an infinite, all-knowing perspective. He has a much bigger and more complete view of life. So, if we substitute in this definition to the promise above, we see that God works all things together for a beneficial purpose. What is that beneficial purpose?
In verse 29, we are given our purpose in life, "to be conformed to the image of His Son." God uses everything in our lives to fulfill the ultimate purpose of making us more like Jesus. All things - everything - the good and the bad. When everything in our life seems to be going well, it's easy to see how God is using that for His good. But, when we are dealt a bad hand and things spiral out of our control and wreak havoc on our souls and sanity, it's a little bit harder to see God's purpose in it. You see, God doesn't cause the evil in the world. He isn't the one responsible for the hunger, abuse and murder you see so prominently displayed on the evening news - that's a combined result of our sinful choices and Satan's momentary power on this earth. But, we have been promised that God will take all things in our lives and work them together for His good to accomplish His purpose of making us more like Jesus. He won't forget or overlook a single event, but will mold it all together to create something beautiful. Our life and the events that comprise it are one thread in a tapestry, and God is the master weaver. He intertwines each event and every person so beautifully and intricately to create a masterpiece. It's such a redemptive and restorative act of such a benevolent God. The job you lost, the loved one who died, the abuse you suffered at someone else's hand, the baby you want so desperately, the depression that creeps into your mind, the poverty you can't seem to get above, the dreams that have fallen through, the bad decisions that torment, the spouse that left, all of it - God is using. It's hard and sometimes impossible for us to see how He is using it for His good because with our limited scope we can't see past the pain, tears and frustration. But, dwell on this promise right now, that He will use it ALL for good, to bring about your perfection in Christ. You know, I often find that it's in the hard times that my faith is strengthened and my love for God is deepened. As A.W. Tozer once said, "If God sets out to make you an unusual Christian He is not likely to be as gentle as He is usually pictured by the popular teachers. A sculptor does not use a manicure set to reduce the rude, unshapely marble to a thing of beauty. The saw, the hammer and the chisel are cruel tools, but without them the rough stone must remain forever formless and unbeautiful."
As wonderful and redemptive as this promise is, verse 28 tells us it only applies to those who love God. Are you a believer? If not, this isn't a promise you can believe for your life. I don't know about you, but I don't want to go through the pain without knowing there's a purpose. Visit our Resources page to pray a prayer of salvation, so you too can claim this abundant promise. And if you are a believer, know that God is using everything in your life for good and for a purpose. Nothing is wasted.
Are there some things that have happened in your life that you've already seen how God has used? Feel free to share and encourage others below.