And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are call according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. Romans 8:28-29
I am like you. I hate the misrepresentation of this verse. I don’t like being on the receiving end of it when others use this verse as a glib cliché. We often hand it out like a grandparent hands out penny candy to over-tired, whiny grandchildren.
This promise is a gem and so incredibly meaningful. Because of its mis-use though, as soon as I hear the reference, I feel a negative impact. I don’t need to even hear the verse to feel the dread. I declare that it’s time to lift the message of today’s scripture high and truly understand it.
The ‘good’ Paul describes does not mean rich, healthy, or admired. The ‘good’ is what comes in the next verse. God’s promise is that He will work all things, evil, sickness, failure…. to conform us to the image of His Son.
Isn’t that really bad news? It is if I’ve been holding God responsible to fix my life and replace all my sinful choices with better ones. Golden ones. This is how the church often dispenses this verse as spiritual medicine.
- Your child die? God will make it up to you and give you something good. Really?
- You lose your job unfairly? God will give you a better one with higher pay and more influence. Really?
It is my experience that oftentimes God does advance His children through the path of adversity. Look at Joseph. But that spiritual reality has nothing to do with Romans 8:28.
When I quote this verse to someone who is hurting, I am really saying this. “If you love God, God will use this ‘crushing thing’ to make you more like Jesus.” Do I really want to say this to someone who is in pain? This is almost an insult. My inference can appear to mean that they are not like Jesus so He sent them this adversity to shape them up.
I believe this is a beautiful promise, but a personal one. Few are the friends who can quote this to me when I’m down. It may be just one or two people who have such credibility. But aside from that, I want to be sure that I treasure the promise today.
The bottom line to the whole issue is this ~ I do want to be like Jesus, the One I treasure, and I am more motivated to see my suffering as something that will help me think like Jesus, feel like Him, shine like Him, and act like Him. This deep desire changes the face of all my adversity even in the midst of weeping.
I can say that all the pain in my story has been good. It has been a gift because it has led me to worship and treasure You. Amen