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Summary: When Paul writes "for those who love God all things work together for good," he writes to encourage Christians not to be discouraged by trials. "All things" urges us to look beyond the moment to see the glory that is to be revealed.

“The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” [1]

If you have been a Christian longer than a year, you will likely have heard some dear soul intone the promise found in this passage from the Apostle’s Letter to Roman Christians. Paul wrote, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” [ROMANS 8:28]. Usually, we hear a truncated form of the promise, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God.”

If some well-meaning individual has cited this verse to you at a time of trial, you may have questioned whether this could be true. In fact, you may have silently questioned the Lord, “All things? Really? All things?” Perhaps we would benefit from exploring this concept, correcting some of the misinformation that circulates among the saints by seeking understanding of what is actually said.

One of the characteristics noted of contemporary Christendom in the West is that we have “sacrificed the permanent on the altar of the temporary.” In our rush for immediate fulfilment of our desires, we have lost the concept described as delayed gratification. We have ceased to set worthy goals, either personally or corporately. As individuals and as a culture, we have exchanged independence for entitlement. Evidence of this transition is seen in the fact that the personal saving rate for the United States has dropped to around three percent, the lowest it has been for a number of years. [2] Canada has only a slightly higher rate of personal savings, registering at 4.60 percent. [3]

How well I remember a personal friend, a denominational leader, who refused to set aside moneys for his own retirement. His comment to me was, “Why should I? The government will take care of me.” I fear he was not the exception. That attitude is witnessed among many churches who look to the denomination first whenever they face a challenge, rather than committing themselves to prayer and seeking the face of the Master.

Anticipating that we must provide for ourselves is overwhelmed by our desire to have immediate gratification. Young couples assume they must have a new home, fully furnished waiting for them when they leave college. Young students assume it is their right to run up huge debts to earn degrees in fields that qualify them to get a minimum salary job at a fast-food restaurant. Young people assume they should be able to purchase a new vehicle as soon as they enter their final year of secondary school.

Tragically, the same attitude has too often infiltrated the churches of our nation. People coming into the Faith are prone to assume that they have a right of freedom from adversity, an assumption that is too often fed from the pulpit. Too many Christians feel that God should be available to ensure that they never face opposition or that they are never subjected to a sermon that hurts their feelings. God, the Father, is transformed into a sort of celestial grandfather who does what he can to make life comfortable for the self-centred soul. The Son of God becomes a distant entity who anticipates the call of the saint so that life proceeds smoothly. The Spirit of God is reduced to a force meant to ensure the pleasure of each Christian. The individual is placed at the centre of his or her universe; everything is arranged for their individual pleasure.

The reality is that bad things happen to good people. However, that is not the end of the story. Christians suffer—some suffer to the point of death. If that was all there was to the story, there would be scant reason to even consider becoming a Christian. Likewise, if Christians were somehow divinely protected from experiencing opposition, injury or pain, everyone would choose to be a Christian. There is far more to the life we now live. There is far more to the struggles Christians have now. We hear the Spirit of God encouraging the people of God, assuring them that He knows what is going on and that He intercedes for them, working for their benefit in every instance.

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