One of the most quoted verses in the New Testament, Romans 8:28, states, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” “All things” indicates everything–the good, the bad, and everything in between–God works for our good for those who love him according to His purpose.
GotQuestions.org gives us some clarification on what, exactly, this means:
The promise that God works all things together for good does not mean that all things, taken by themselves, are good. Some things and events are decidedly bad. But God is able to work them together for good. He sees the big picture; He has a master plan.
Neither does the promise that God works all things together for good mean we will acquire all that we want or desire. Romans 8:28 is about God’s goodness and our confidence that His plan will work out as He sees fit. Since His plan is always good, Christians can take confidence that, no matter our circumstances or environments, God is active and will conclude things according to His good and wise design. With this knowledge we can learn to be content (see Philippians 4:11).
The fact that God works all things together for good means God’s plan will not be thwarted [Job 42:2]. In fact, we are part of His plan, having been “called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). When we trust God and His way, we can be sure that He is active and powerful on our behalf (see Ephesians 3:20).
God knows the future, and His desires will be accomplished. “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please’” (Isaiah 46:10). Even when things seem chaotic and out of control, God is still in charge. We sometimes worry about what’s happening to us because do not know what is best for us. But God does.
The principle of God working all things together for good is well illustrated in the Old Testament account of Joseph’s life. Early in Joseph’s life, Joseph’s jealous brothers sold him into slavery. In Egypt, Joseph rises to a position of responsibility. Then, he is unjustly imprisoned and forgotten about by his friends. God gifts him the ability to interpret dreams, and through that ability Joseph is once again raised to a place of honor and power. When drought forces Joseph’s brothers to seek food elsewhere, they travel to Egypt and encounter Joseph, who eventually saves them from starvation and grants them a livelihood in his new land.
Throughout his life, Joseph trusted God no matter his good or bad circumstances. Joseph experienced plenty of bad things: kidnapping, slavery, false accusations, wrongful imprisonment, rejection, and famine. But in the end God brought things to a wonderful, life-affirming conclusion. God blessed Joseph’s entire family through those painful circumstances and through Joseph’s faith. (You can read about Joseph’s life beginning in Genesis 37.)
Paul’s life is another testament to how God works all things together for good. Paul suffered shipwrecks, beatings, imprisonment, murder attempts, temporary blindness, and more—all within God’s plan to spread the gospel (see Acts 9:16 and 2 Corinthians 11:24–27). Through it all, God was steadfastly working to bring about good and glorious results.
After promising that God works all things together for our good, Romans 8 concludes with the wonderful fact that God trumps everything that comes against Him and His. The Christian is assured that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35–39). God’s love is everlasting, and His wisdom is infinite. It doesn’t matter who or what attempts to thwart God’s plan; no one and nothing can. God will work all things together for the good of those who love Him. Our decision to align our will with God’s and to always trust Him will be rewarded.
Sometimes it may take a very long time to see the ultimate “good” in a given situation in our lives, such as was the case in Joseph’s life. And sometimes all of the hard times, as Paul experienced throughout his life after his Damascus Road encounter with Jesus Christ, actually ended up spreading the Gospel far and wide during the remaining three decades of his life from that point on. The “good” is God’s purpose, and the definition is different for each of us according to God’s purpose for us individually. And that’s the key point. God’s purpose is individual to each of us.
Sometimes we can be so busy about our lives that we forget the purpose behind them. We are driven by the demands of life and not realizing that God always has a greater purpose. His purposes not only encompass our lives, but the lives of those around us—at home, school, work, and community. It’s important to know and live out the following Bible verses about purpose:
God has a purpose for everyone
“But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16).
Pharaoh mistakenly thought that he was in control. However, God put him in the place of being an Egyptian leader for His purpose. God has a purpose for everyone—including those who resist Him. Ultimately God will get the glory no matter the person because He is the Giver of purpose in every life whether they live for Him or not.
God’s purpose can’t be undone
“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).
Once God has established His purposes for our lives—no one can change it. What door God has shut, no man can open and what door God has opened, no man can shut. People will wear themselves out in efforts to make a situation turn badly for believers, yet God will still ultimately accomplish His plans. Christians can take courage that He is working everything for our good even the most difficult life situations.
God’s purpose is the one that lasts
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).
The lives of men and women are but a vapor; however, God’s purposes can be fulfilled throughout multiple generations. We can make our plans and set out to see them accomplished, but if we don’t pray and seek God’s direction—we could find ourselves drifting in an ocean of problems without a sail. Every plan should begin and end with God in mind first.
Every person is born with purpose
“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out” (Proverbs 20:5).
All people are made in the image of God. Each of us are born with a purpose and calling that we can discover or completely miss. The influence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers gives us insight to His purposes for us. We find peace and courage when we sense the confirmation of the Spirit that we are in the right place at the right time of our designated calling.
God fulfills His purpose for believers
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13).
God’s greater purpose has to always be on the forefront of our minds. We may be offered employment, school, and marriage opportunities that may not fit in God’s purpose. This takes wisdom on our part to wait on God’s peace before making presumptuous decisions that may have lifetime ramifications. There’s great joy in the discovery of His purpose when we trust in Him rather than on our feelings or pressures from other people.
God works through all situations to fulfill His purpose
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Hard times can make it difficult to see God’s purpose especially when we only feel pain and grief. Many times we don’t want to be reminded that God is working our difficulty for our good. However if we practice living our lives with the mindset that God is working things out for us, we can have smoother transition of accepting this truth in the hard places.
God has a greater purpose in saving us
“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9).
Salvation is only the beginning for Christians as we were saved to do good works in the name of Jesus. The promise of eternity and living free from the bondage of sin is a wonderful gift of salvation. These promised blessings free us up to be about God’s business every day. We need to start our mornings with a prayer asking God to reveal to us His purposes for that day.
The Lord and His purposes are perfect, but we are not. We are assailed by doubts and fears that many times keep us from living out the purposes that He has established for us. However, we can overcome this by consistently reading and studying His word so that our faith will be made stronger day by day. As we learn of God and pray to Him regularly, we become more emboldened to accomplish great purposes in His name. (Quote source here.)
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” Psalm 139:13-15 (NIV)
The world views humans as the product of the reproductive process and not as something to be treasured. Man is simply the highest life-form produced by evolution. Psalm 139 helps us to see the value of human life. Every child is fearfully and wonderfully made, and is a gift from God. God knows each of us intimately and oversees the entire process in the womb from conception to birth. The words used to describe the process, “knit” and “woven,” indicate the delicate and precise nature of the work God does for each of us. This is one of my favorite passages because it reminds me of God’s immense wisdom, tender love, and awesome power.
In the process of “knitting and weaving” our forms, God gives each of us individual attention and also a unique combination of talents, personality and intelligence. God knows the plans He has for each of us before we are born. His attention to all the details in creating and forming our innermost parts demonstrates His love for us, and the importance and value He places on each life. We see this point reinforced when Jesus told His disciples “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).
Let us not be deceived into accepting the world’s standard for the value of human life. Instead, let us remember God carefully and precisely formed each of us into the unique individual we are, and nothing happens to His children by accident. We are fearfully and wonderfully made for a purpose. Praise God! (Quote source here.)
We tend to think that if Jesus Christ compels us to do something and we are obedient to Him, He will lead us to great success. We should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God’s purpose for us. In fact, His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way. What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself.
What is my vision of God’s purpose for me? Whatever it may be, His purpose is for me to depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish— His purpose is the process itself. What He desires for me is that I see “Him walking on the sea” with no shore, no success, nor goal in sight, but simply having the absolute certainty that everything is all right because I see “Him walking on the sea” (Mark 6:49). It is the process, not the outcome, that is glorifying to God.
God’s training is for now, not later. His purpose is for this very minute, not for sometime in the future. We have nothing to do with what will follow our obedience, and we are wrong to concern ourselves with it. What people call preparation, God sees as the goal itself.
God’s purpose is to enable me to see that He can walk on the storms of my life right now. If we have a further goal in mind, we are not paying enough attention to the present time. However, if we realize that moment-by-moment obedience is the goal, then each moment as it comes is precious.
God does not further our spiritual life in spite of our circumstances, but in and by our circumstances. (Quote source here.)
Nothing in this life happens by accident. And we know that in all things God works for the good . . .
Of those who love him. . .
Who have been called. . .
According to his purpose. . . .
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