Summary: Romans 8:28 discusses how God works in us by answering two questions about his work in us.
All of us need someone on our side.
I played college basketball with a man that I would take Galen Winters on my team for any basketball game. We played two years of college basketball together, and we missed him when he graduated. He was a scrappy and smart player who simply gave his best in the game. He had this big toothy grin. When he would get knocked down in the course of a game, no matter how rough the play was, he would bounce up from the floor with that big toothy grin on his face. I would take him on my side anytime.
I have a friend I would also take on my team for any basketball game. He is a few years older than I am and only has one good arm, but he has learned, by making it through life with just one arm, to not let anything defeat him. I would take him on my team at any time.
In many states now real estate agents can now represent home buyers, where before they could only represent sellers. When we bought our first home in Michigan, our agent helped us out, but legally he did not represent us, because every agent was an agent of the seller. When we bought our second home in Michigan, our agent represented us. She could not disclose information about us to a seller, because she identified herself as our agent. Michigan had passed a buyers’ agent law. We had someone on our side in that transaction.
If you or I get involved in a legal transaction, we seek the advice of a lawyer. The lawyer works for us; he is on our side.
If people can work for us, be on our side, how much more valuable is it for God to be on our side? Paul assures us in verse 28 that God works for the good of those who love him.
If we are to understand this concept, we must understand how this verse and the following text fits in Romans. Paul begins verse 18 by comparing our suffering with the glory that will be revealed in us. He says there is no comparison. Then he cites how we know this: (1) In verse 19, we can know this because “the creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed”; (2) in verse 23, we can know this because we ourselves ”groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies”; (3) in verse 26, we know this because the Spirit helps us when we do not know how to pray by interceding before God for us; (4) and in verse 28, we know this because Romans 8:28 “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
We, then, are considering the last of these four statements.
Let’s consider a warning about this verse first as it sets the context for what follows: Paul is not talking about our never having problems in life or God correcting all our problems. In fact, he makes this statement in the context of comparing our suffering, our having problems, with the glory we will know. He assumes we will have problems along the way.
A few years ago, we had a power surge in our house and could have had an electrical fire. My wife was home alone when it happened. When she checked out the problem, she could have been electrocuted. Two nights later when the furnace motor began to arc because of the damage from the power surge, we could have had another fire. If a fire had destroyed our house and possessions or if my wife had been electrocuted, could we have said God had stopped working for us? That is not what Paul is talking about here, but it is how we often understand vs. 28.