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 is a verse often quoted in times of great affliction, suffering, and loss. No doubt, this verse is being read, believed, and shared with those affected at Union University as it gives promise, hope, and confidence that God is going to bring good out the destruction.
Bruce Ware, in his book God’s Greater Glory: The Exalted God of Scripture and the Christian Faith, has an excerpt on Romans 8:28 from the chapter, “Living Behind God: Veiled to the Purpose of God in Suffering”. I thought I’d share that with you as an encouragement to give God thanks and praise in the trials as well as for the trials.
If the suffering that comes into our lives is pointless, if God has no good intent for it, and if all that it does is cause harm, then there is no reason to give thanks in the suffering, and certainly not for the suffering. You cannot genuinely give thanks in the suffering if you think at the time, there is simply nothing about this painful experience that will necessarily prove good; in fact, I should accept the fact that it probably is entirely pointless. For if this is the case, then it cannot possibly be a basis for giving thanks! God is not in it (in fact, he feels badly about it and wishes it weren’t happening), Satan is chuckling over this, knowing that it serves no good purpose and will only bring harm, and there is no assurance that the suffering will end any differently than it began–pointless, meaningless, and void of any and all possible good purpose. If that is how we think about suffering, we can only (rightly) despair in it and for it!
But if the promises of God are sure, and they are (!); if God has promised believers that he will ensure that all things will work together for their good (Rom. 8:28); if God has promised that ‘those who seek the Lord lack no good things’ (Ps. 34:10; cf. Ps. 84:11); and if God wishes to embrace his loving commitment to us as demonstrated when he says, ‘He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?’ (Rom. 8:32); then we have good reason to give God thanks both in and for all that occurs. God will not fail! He reigns over the suffering of our lives, and he purposes our good through everything that happens, ensuring that all the good he intends for us to have, we will have. What hope, what confidence, what peace, what joy, and what strength, all in the midst of suffering, God wants his people to have.
Bruce A. Ware, God’s Greater Glory: The Exalted God of Scripture and the Christian Faith (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004), 172-73.