by Steven Chan
4 May 2008
We are familiar with the assurance contained in Rom 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” However, when things do not seem to work out immediately in our favour we often begin to doubt the assurance that “all things work together for good”.
We need to note that this promise is given to those who love God – not just to anyone – and certainly not to those who do not have any thought or affection for God. We need to remember that the first and greatest commandment remains thus: “Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.’ And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:29-30)
It is amazing that some expects God to work all things for good to them even though they do not bother about God for most of their lives and treat God merely as a ‘gofer’ (one who is often sent on errands or asked to do menial tasks). Let not that man expect anything from the Lord (James 1:6)
The promise is to those who love God and who are the called according to His purpose. Who are the called? The answer is provided in 2 Thess 2:13-14: “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Christians are the called of Jesus: “Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; (Rom 1:5-6). According to 1 Peter 2:9, Christians have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” Have you responded to the call of God by obeying the Gospel? If you have not, then you cannot claim the promise as contained in Rom 8:28.
Finally, we need to realize that we need to be patient in God’s working and not fall into the false expectation that things must work out immediately in our favour. Perhaps that’s why the prophets referred to the “waiting upon the Lord” as in Isa 40:31: “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles; They shall run and not be weary; They shall walk and not faint.”
We have a great example in the account concerning Joseph who had suffered greatly in many ways such as from the hands of his brothers who sold him into slavery, from his boss’s wife who had falsely accused him, from a boss who doubted his integrity and honesty and from friends who forgot him when they progressed in their lives.
Yet in Gen 50:19-21 Joseph said to his brothers: “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” Joseph was patient in waiting for the providential working of God in his life. His patience in God’s providential working enabled him to later discover that God had worked all things for good: “to save many people alive”. God had delivered him along the way through many difficulties and challenges – and he acknowledged God’s providential workings in his life. The same was expressed in Deut 8:16 when Moses wrote that God “fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end” Yes, it is God’s intent to do us good in the end but we must remain faithful and not doubt Him. Through all the bad and evil things that may befall us in our lives, we must recognize that God is in control and He can still achieve His purpose to do us good in the end. Indeed God is gracious. “But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious; longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.”(Ps 86:15) “Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you (Isa 30:18).