God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
God has a detailed plan for your life, and His plan for you is conceived in love. Psalm 139:16 says, “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” Think about the worst day of your life. That day was written in God’s book before you ever experienced it. He had a plan. It didn’t take God by surprise; this was all part of that plan. But that plan was conceived by a God who loves you. God is not some capricious deity who moves us around like pawns on a cosmic chessboard. No. He has a perfect plan that was conceived in love. Exodus 15:13 says, “In Your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed.” Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’” God assumes responsibility for everything in your life, and God’s plan for your life is conceived in love.
Now if you have trouble reconciling those two statements, if you wonder how a good and loving God could have a plan for you that includes great hurt and suffering, then there is a third truth you need to remember, and that is this: God’s plan is often beyond our understanding.
C. S. Lewis brilliantly explains the problem of reconciling God’s sovereignty with His love. He wrote, “We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in Heaven–a senile benevolence … whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, ‘a good time was had by all.’ … I should very much like to live in a universe which was governed on such lines. But since it is abundantly clear that I don’t, and since I have reason to believe, nevertheless, that God is Love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction. … The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word ‘love.’”
Romans 8:28 says, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Unfortunately, some people misapply that verse. To use Lewis’s words, they attach a trivial meaning to the word “good.” They think, “Everything in God’s plan is working together for good. That means a full bank account. That means a life free from problems. That means a happy marriage. Everything is working together for my happiness.” That’s a trivial understanding of “good.” In the next verse, Paul explains what the “good” is for which God is working all things together in your life. Verse 29 says, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” God is using all the circumstances in your life to mold you into the image of Christ.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Who Do We Forgive?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.
C. S. Lewis, “The Problem of Pain,” rev. ed. (New York: HarperOne, 2015), 31-32, 41.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.