“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).
Do you believe that?
I don’t recall having ever heard a Christian flat-out say, “No, I don’t believe that!” But I’ve heard quite a few give an affirmative answer, followed by a qualifier: “Yes, I believe that, but . . .”
You love God, and you are committed as one of the called. Do you believe Romans 8:28?
“We know!” Not, “we think.” Not, “we hope.” We know that God is at work in our lives. And that he is working for our good—“in all things.” The “all things” include the sufferings of verse 17 and the groanings of verse 23—meaning that even the negatives in our lives have a positive purpose in God’s plan for us.
This was no armchair theology for Paul. He encountered troubles so severe that he “despaired even of life” (2 Cor. 1:8). He gave a rundown of hardships he experienced that, by comparison, make our problems seem like a stroll through Disneyland (2 Cor 11:23–28). Yet, he faced them knowing—knowing—that they would eventually be worked out by God for his good.
On December 10, 1914, just as Thomas Edison was finishing his evening meal, a man rushed into his house with the news that there had been an explosion at his West Orange, New Jersey, research campus. Ten buildings were engulfed in flames, threatening to destroy the empire the inventor had spent his life building.
Edison made his way to the site and watched his priceless prototypes and records turn to ashes. According to Reader’ Digest and The New York Times articles, he said three things.
First, at the scene of the blaze, he told his 24-year-old son, “Go get your mother and all her friends. They’ll never see a fire like this again.”
Second, “It’s all right. We’ve just got rid of a lot of rubbish.”
Third, to a reporter: “Although I am over sixty-seven years old, I’ll start all over again tomorrow.”
And he did.
The monetary loss was $919,788 (about $24 million in today’s dollars).
Edison disdained organized religion. He believed in what he called a “Supreme Intelligence,” but not in a God who has any interest or involvement in human affairs.
I’m inspired by Edison’s positive attitude in the face of calamity.
But I’m also disconcerted—for I get bummed out by far less than what he experienced.
If I believe Romans 8:28, I know that God is both interested and involved in my life. There is no room for “Yes, I believe that, but . . .” Partial belief is an acknowledgment of partial disbelief.
“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” “All things” includes both prosperity and adversity, joy and sadness, good health and bad. “We know” cancels out, “Yes, but . . .”
Sometimes we experience difficulties that we don’t understand. In the words of Bible commentator D.M. Lloyd-Jones: “I do not know which way to turn or to go; I do not understand why these things are happening, and I do not know exactly what to ask for at this moment. But I know this, that in spite of my ignorance, and in spite of everything that is happening to me, this and everything else is working together for my good.”
Our experience is limited to one world—but hopefully, our faith isn’t. We can be confident about the ultimate even when we are rattled by the immediate.