And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Occasionally, somebody will ask me what my favorite verse in the Bible is. My favorite verse is one that is a favorite of many of you as well. It is a verse that Christians, historically, have clung to in times of uncertainty, confusion, or tremendous loss. In fact, when I say the reference to this verse, many of you can recite it. It is Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” I believe that Romans 8:28 is perhaps the single greatest promise in the Bible. But it is the most misunderstood and misapplied promise in the Bible as well. This week we are going to discover what Romans 8:28 actually promises and what it does not promise.
To understand this verse, we first need to understand the context of the promise. This section of Romans 8 is talking about the great inheritance that we have as children of God. But before we get our full inheritance, there is going to be a time of suffering. Before the glory comes the groaning. Before the hallelujahs come the hurts. Before the crown comes the cross.
Paul said suffering is a part of God’s plan in Romans 8:18-19. He said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.” Because of the sin in the world, all of creation is suffering, groaning, and looking for something better that is yet to come. Not only does the natural world suffer and groan, but we suffer and groan as well. Sin has infected our bodies, and the fallout of sin affects our lives every day.
One limitation that sin has put into our lives is that many times we do not even know how we ought to pray. We know we are supposed to pray according to God’s will, but we do not know what God’s will is in a particular situation. As somebody once said: God’s will is usually best seen in the rearview mirror. We do not know what God’s will is until after the event has happened; then we can say, “Oh, that was God’s will.” You may not know how to pray in a particular situation, but here is the good news: The Holy Spirit knows how to pray. He is in perfect alignment with God the Father. So when you do not know how to pray, when you fall on your face before God and say, “God, I am so tired. I am so anxious. I am so exhausted. I do not even know what to say to You,” the Spirit knows what to say. “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). Even when you do not know what to pray, when you are going through a time of suffering, Romans 8:28 reminds you of what you can know for sure: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
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.