“And 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 ESV)
What is the Assurance From our Sovereign God?
The guarantee – for good
What is the greatest evil or injustice ever done in human history? The murder of Jesus. This Friday we gather and celebrate what we call Good Friday. Why would we call it “Good Friday?” The death of Jesus. The suffering of our Savior. Of all the senseless names for a day, Good Friday would have to rank first, unless we see through the death of Jesus an ultimate good. What good? The ransom price paid for our sins. Victory over Satan and death. Life brought out of death. Beauty from ashes. A death that brings eternal life.
Somebody in the past pondered, what should we name the day Jesus died? In isolation, there’s nothing good about Good Friday. But from the perspective of the bigger picture, if there’s something wrong with the name Good Friday it’s that it is understated. It was a great Friday. An amazing Friday. A forever fantastic Friday.
Here’s the reality of our struggles: only God has the big picture. We have our Mondays and Tuesdays. To us, they are Monster Monday and Terrible Tuesday. But to God who is sovereignly working out everything according to his purpose, all our Terrible Tuesdays end up being Good Fridays. Or in the words of the famous sermon, It’s Friday but Sunday’s coming.
I recall a dying man coming to a men’s group I was a part of. He said, “I have cancer. I have only a few weeks to live.” That will get a room quiet and it did. He talked about Romans 8:28 and his struggle with how his cancer could possibly work out for good. He said, “Then it dawned on me that I don’t get to define what is good.”
If there’s any word in Romans 8:28 where we need to modify our definition, it’s that one. Good. All things work together for good. We think “good” means good health. Good wealth. Good marriage. Good kids. Good and happy days without end.
God’s definition of good is much different from ours. Let’s be honest, we interpret good as self-happiness. How does God define good? Look at the very next verse. “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” (Romans 8:29) How does God define good for us? The closest possible resemblance in attitude and action to Jesus.
We think good is happiness. God thinks, good is holiness. We think good is a trouble-free life, God thinks good is a purified faith through pain. We think good is everything perfect today. God thinks good is everything perfect someday.
How do you define good? Good for you? Glory for you? Or good for God and glory for him?
Life will test our definition because pain and trials force us to wrestle with our expectations of God. Therefore, many people try Christianity and then depart. It didn’t provide them the happiness they expected. There are churches and pastors that prey on human narcissism. They draw a crowd, but their people are ill-prepared to handle suffering, pain, or even death.
But for those who see Christ-likeness as the greatest good we can experience, and God’s glory as the ultimate purpose in life, when disappointment inevitably comes, we rest in knowing God’s got this too. He is in control. He is not surprised. And someday we will see how God worked in and through all these sorrows to accomplish his purpose in us. Until then, we must put this in the category of mystery and trust all things will eventually work together for good.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
© 2019 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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