“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NKJ)
This is a remarkable statement for Paul to make, especially when we consider how much he had suffered because of his love for God and His truth. He had been imprisoned, he had been stoned, he had been beaten; and yet, after all this, he was able to say that: “all things work together for good to those who love God.” Some might be inclined to doubt such a statement in regard to this experience, even some Christians. Yet many others beside Paul have had similar testimonies:
Read what David said in Psalm 37:25, “I have been young and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging for bread.” (NKJ)
And again in Psalm 119:67; 71, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. It is good for me that I have been afflicted that I may learn your statutes.” (NKJ)
There is good in all the divine foresight of God. Many think there is good only in those things that give pleasure to the body and mind. They will admit that there is good in health and prosperity. However, they find it hard to see what good there can be in: sickness, in adversity, in poverty or in sorrow.
Paul took a wide view of life’s experiences. He appreciated the joys of life, but he also felt there was a purpose and blessing in life’s sorrows and trials.
Our human nature is in itself unholy, alienated from God, easily absorbing the influences of this present world and easily led away by temptation and sin. This is proof of the ungodliness of man’s nature, which is minimally influenced by the important Christian truths that man professes to believe in. This is speaking of a minority of believers. However, it could affect any of us at any time if we are not focused on God.
There are no truths more universally admitted than the existence of the moral government of God, the certainty of death and of a future, of reward and punishments. Yet, how many do we see whose character and conduct show almost no evidence that they believe in these truths at all.
How then are men to be roused from their indifference? How are they to be taught to think seriously of their own souls and the eternity that awaits them? Some would answer – by the revealing of God’s love and grace. We are having God’s love and grace supplied to us every day, in our daily food, in health and strength and in all the other blessings and comforts that we enjoy. Yet these blessings, instead of leading men to think of eternity, seems to make many think more of this world.
God’s goodness, instead of leading them to repentance, hardens their hearts because of possessions and the striving to achieve them have taken priority in their lives.
So what is the answer to this negativity? It is what Paul told us in the opening scripture: we need the discipline and the reality of sufferings and trials. These trials intrude on the routine of our daily routines, divert our desires from the things of this perishing world, and make us focus on our heavenly father, who we should be dependent on for all our needs. There is nothing more calculated to show a man his weakness and his dependence on God and lead him to reflect more seriously on his future than to find himself surrounded by trials and tribulations and unable to do anything for himself.
Under these circumstances we must realize that it is not man who will direct our steps, but the power and love of Jesus. It is then that we realize that our trials have proven to be our greatest blessings.
So we now understand that in hardships, suffering, in heart-wrenching disappointments, and when we have been wrongly accused, we can know that God will work in these situations to fulfil His purpose in His children.
His purpose is a deliberate plan and intention of God’s eternal purpose relating to salvation. Our personal salvation was not only well planned but demonstrates God’s abiding faithfulness as He awaits the consummation of His great plan, when we stand before him and His Son at the time we enter heaven. Hallelujah.