“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28. This verse is often quoted by Christians, and it’s my opinion that many of them may be misapplying the verse to their present condition.
Allow me to ask this question: How do we apply Romans 8:28 (so that it always makes good sense) when we, or a fellow Christian, suffers the loss of a loved one, or a financial bankruptcy, or a painful illness, or a tragic accident, or even a difficult situation?
Let’s start by analyzing the surrounding verses. Paul is not explaining about the Christian’s present condition, but rather he is looking forward to our eternal condition.
Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Here, Paul talks about the certainty of our eternal destiny in Christ – how that we will not be condemned and suffer the punishment of sin in hell, but we will be forever with our Lord Jesus Christ. With that perspective, he then relates this truth to our present condition and the glory that awaits us in heaven.
Romans 8:18 says, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Again, we see the context of our coming glorification and notice that he carries the thought well after verse 28.
Romans 8:29-30 says, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
With this train of thought, we can understand that God is working not just for our present condition but also for our eternal good. Whatever our life may be in this earth, God promises that our eternal glorification is a guarantee! Remember: not just an eternal existence, but a ‘glorified’ existence with Him!
God does not promise an easy life or a better life here on earth. (Consider, for example, the many Christians who died a martyr’s death!) But God promised that whether we live or die, be it in a good condition or a bad condition in this present life, our glorified life in eternity cannot be compared to what we have here.
Therefore, we can confidently trust in God and His love for us, and also have a good understanding of Romans 8:28. So whether we live poor, or our body screams with pain because of sickness, or if we lose a loved one, we can have the peace of God because of the better, glorified life that awaits us in eternity.