In Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.
–Psalm 139:16

What does God mean when He gives this promise in Romans 8:28: “God causes all things to work together for good”? He is not saying everything is working together to make you a star athlete. He is not saying all the disappointments in your dating life are working together to bring you a perfect spouse. He is not saying the hardships you are facing at your job are working together to make you more successful. Then what is this promise saying?

First of all, God has a purpose for your life. People usually only quote the first portion of this verse: “God causes all things to work together for good.” But it goes on to say, “to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” The word “good” is related to “purpose.” This verse is saying that all things work together for God to accomplish His purpose in your life. What is that purpose? Paul said in verse 29: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” Out of billions of people in the world, God chose to save you. And He chose to save you for a purpose: to mold you into the image of His Son. God wants you and I to love what Jesus loved, to think as Jesus thought, to do the things that Jesus did. The Bible says God uses all things in your life to make you like His Son, Jesus. The word “good” is not a synonym for “healthy,” “successful,” “admired,” or “fulfilled”–that is not what everything is working together to accomplish. Instead, everything is working together to make you like Christ.

Second, God’s purpose for your life includes “all things.” God causes all things to work together to make you like Christ. When you have a steady income, when you are in a fulfilling marriage, and when your health is great, it is easy to say, “Yes, all things are working together for good.” But it also means that unwanted divorce, that undeserved termination, and that unfair accusation–all those things are also working together to accomplish God’s purpose in your life: to make you like Christ. In fact, have you noticed it is those mighty blows from the Master’s hammer, those hard things, that forge the character of Christ in your life? It is not the easy things that make you look like Jesus; it is the difficult things. God uses all things, especially the hurtful things in your life, to mold you into the image of His Son.

Third, God is in control of all that happens to us. People say, “Things just have a way of working themselves out.” But that is not what Romans 8:28 is saying! Things do not work out for good by chance. On the contrary, if things are left on their own, they usually work out for bad. The law of entropy says everything is spiraling downward. Romans 8:28 says, “God causes all things to work together for good.” God is the one who is in control of every circumstance in your life. In fact, God is the author of your life plan. Every detail of your life has been planned by God.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Greatest Promise in the Bible” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

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.