January 12, 2003
ALL THINGS WORK...FOR GOOD
From Romans 8:26, "we know not..." but then in 8:28, "we know..." The difference between these statements is precious. In the first we are surrounded by evil, we realize that in our flesh dwells no good thing. We know that often the sufferings we experience are but blessings in disguise, and we acknowledge that with all our limitations, it is difficult to know what to pray for.
Shall we ask God for deliverance? Or shall we ask for strength to endure the trial? Might it be that we've done something which calls for God's hand in chastening? Are we suffering in fellowship with Christ? "We know not." Yet in all this perplexity we find two glorious beams of light! We do not know, but He knows! And, I may not know what to pray for, but I know "that all things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28). This is the first time we find love (as a verb) in Romans. We learned of "the love of God shed abroad in our hearts" (5:5) and also that "God commended His love toward us" evidenced by the death of Christ (5:8). But here love is an action word and we are the ones expressing our love toward God.
But the wording or our verse is even more precious than it seems, for the Greek does not say "that all things work together for good..." as though perhaps by some mystical characteristic of these things it just happens that way. It says to the ones loving God, that "God works all things for good." God is the one working them out to that end! And then He adds, "to them who are the called according to His purpose" (8:28). He knows and He works! How many are the testimonies that this is so -- for all His saints throughout the ages?
What shall we say of Abraham, tried in the land of Canaan by famine and war, of Jacob wanting desperately the coveted birthright yet fleeing because of the threat of Esau? and the treachery of Laban? What of Joseph--thrown in a pit, sold as a slave, taken in bonds to Egypt , falsely charged in the house of Potiphar and jailed as a rapist? Who said it better than he, "God did send me before you to preserve life" (Gen. 45:5), and again, "you thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good...to save much people alive..." (Gen. 50:20).
Ivan L. Burgener