We continue with Dr Davies’s Devotionals from Romans 8
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
In considerable pain and waiting for surgery, grieving too over the death of his three-year-old child but also worried about his local church situation, this young man shared with his wife the comfort he had just received in reading the bible. He was reading Romans chapter eight and his eyes were suddenly glued to verse 28. ‘Look’, he told his wife, ‘These words are for us as a family. I don’t understand what God is doing in our lives and why we lost our child, but I know the Lord is in control and has a good purpose’. They embraced each other in tears and felt more encouraged in their sorrow as they talked about the verse. Their prayer together was one of thankfulness that the Lord was working out his purpose in their lives, though they did not understand or like it.
Is this your experience? Are you breaking your heart? Have circumstances become perplexing and hard to cope with? Or does your local church with its problems trouble you? If so, you are in good company, for many Christians have struggled and faced problems yet find comfort in the Bible, including the words of our verse today. It is a verse that describes in a nutshell the previous 27 verses of the chapter. The conjunction ‘And’ confirms this link. Several assurances and encouragements were given earlier so verse 28 can rightly be regarded as another major encouragement and confirmation of what has been said. The Christian is not condemned, but rather is secure, privileged, helped, protected, and destined for glory. Amazing!
Let us look at some key words in this verse:
‘We know’ are significant words. There is no guess work here, but a basic truth taught throughout Scripture illustrated and proven in the lives of many Christians over the centuries. We will illustrate this in the next devotion but grasp the fact that this verse expresses divine truth that applies for Christians concerning all that occurs in this life. This ought to be the lens through which we look at our problems, trials, disappointments, and even success. You can rely 100% on what this verse teaches – think of the cruelty, jealousy and hardships Joseph experienced and yet when he reveals his identity to his brothers in later years he affirms: ‘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’. It was certainly not easy for Joseph over many years, but God’s ‘good’ purpose was being worked out, not only for Joseph but for the people of Egypt and of Judah. These are not cold words, or simply a theologically correct statement of agreement. Too many Christians talk about the verse as a theory whereas Paul is also writing from personal experience. Do we know the truth of verse 28 as a proven fact in our lives as we reflect on how the Lord has led us?
‘All things’ – Nothing is excluded from God’s purpose, not even the sad, unexpected trials. There is nothing in your life or situation which is outside God’s purpose for you. You may not like or understand what is happening to you, in your situation or family but that does not change the fact that the Lord is at work purposefully in your life and mine. Do you believe this? Can you accept this fact? Or are you complaining and rebelling?
‘Work together for good’ -Pain, delay in waiting for surgery, losing a three-year-old child coupled with problems in their local church did not make sense to this young married couple. What was ‘good’ about their problems? Of course, ‘good’ here does not mean God gives us everything we ask for or what is enjoyable for us. Yes, the Lord wants our ‘good’ but in the sense of strengthening, blessing, moulding our lives and making himself more real to us.
‘To those who love God’ – These words have emphasis in the original, so they are important. This too is an accurate description of a Christian and profound. A love relationship exists between the Lord and each Christian. And there is need for each Christian to develop this love relationship with the Lord. How can we do this? By obeying him; also by desiring and seeking him in prayer and learning more about him in the Bible. Are you a lover of God?
No one and nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. I read recently of Christian pastors overseas being threatened with death if they refused to deny Christ and convert to another religion. They refused and sadly they were killed, some of them in a most cruel manner in front of their families and congregations. But not even death can separate Christians from Christ and his love. The ultimate ‘good’ is to be with Christ which ‘is far better’ (Philippians 1:23).
We return to this verse next time but bathe yourself in the assurance and guarantee that your life and that of your family, friends and church are in the hands of our sovereign, gracious God.
Trust him completely and in every situation!
Dr Eryl Davies (Heath Church Cardiff)