“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:28-29
As a preacher’s kid born in the early 80s, my siblings and I grew up watching Little House on the Prairie and a selection of Christian VHS tapes. One of our favorites was Lost in Silver Canyon. In this adventure, two preteens get abandoned in a ghost town, trapped in a mine, meet up with a stray dog, and have many other exciting misadventures. Throughout the video, they sing a song based on Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good to them that love the Lord.”
I grew up singing this song, and for many years as I would hear this verse mentioned my understanding was this: If you love God everything will be okay in the end. As the plot of Lost in Silver Canyon proves, you’ll be rescued from a mine, saved from a vicious dog, and reunited with your parents.
“It will be okay!” This is a phrase my parents used to comfort me when I was upset as a child, and one that I used many times with my own children. When their block tower collapsed or their beta fish died or they fell off their bike, I almost always comforted them with a hug and a sympathetic, “It will be okay.” Many times this was, and still is, enough to make everything better.
My understanding of this verse changed as an adult after my husband preached a message on Romans chapter eight. He pointed out that this verse is not just a sympathetic platitude that everything will be okay if you love God. Yes, verse 28 says that all things work together for good to them that love God, but the “good” in verse 28 is not our circumstances working themselves out the way we want them to. The things that are upsetting to us as adults are a lot more serious than scraped knees, and many times the outcomes are not okay ̶ ̶they are painful and even devastating!
Does this somehow mean that if everything isn’t okay and it doesn’t work out in the end that we don’t love God or that He doesn’t have our best interest in mind? Verse 29 holds the answer to these questions. The “good” in verse 28 is not a change in our circumstances; it’s a change in us. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.” No matter what our circumstances are, God can use them to conform us to be more like Jesus.
As we become more like HIM, in spite of our circumstances, our outlook changes, and we have an amazing opportunity to point people to the One Who can give comfort and peace. The people that reflect Christ well are oftentimes the ones that have gone through the darkest circumstances. Elisabeth Elliot, the wife of missionary Jim Elliot who was speared to death by the Auca Indians said, ”The secret is Christ in me, not me in another set of circumstances.” Our circumstances may be far from “okay,” but God can take all things, the good and the bad, and work them out for His good.
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Mrs. Aimee Atwood is wife to Jason Atwood, who pastored in Corpus Christi, TX, for 13 years. God used the Atwood family to establish a thriving local church. God moved the Atwood family to Santa Clara in 2019. They are heavily involved in training the next generation for Christ.