And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Sometimes life can be tough. Few, if any of us, will escape some kind of difficulty during the course of our lives. It might be illness, physical or mental. It could be unemployment or financial difficulties. Maybe we’ll experience difficulties in our relationships, perhaps with a partner, a parent, a sibling or a friend. These turbulent periods of our lives are the consequence of living in a fallen world. The world we live in is not as God intended; sin has a hold on creation, and impacts us all, directly and indirectly.
This is a rather bleak picture, but through it all there is hope. Today’s verse states that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” This certainly doesn’t mean that all the bad things that happen to us are willed by God. Indeed, God grieves for his creation (see Genesis 6:6). What it does mean is that God uses all the bad things that happen to us for our own good. How often have you heard that people have come out of negative experiences stronger? How often have you heard people say of negative experiences that in the end, it was the best thing that ever happened to them? Bad things hurt, sometimes unbearably so, but if we’re Christians we can take comfort from the fact that God is working through our difficulties.
What does Paul mean, though, when he says God works “for the good of those who love him”?
God, of course, takes an eternal perspective, whilst we tend to see everything from a more short-term view. For God, what is in our interests is often different to what we might think. God wants us to grow closer to him, to become more like Christ, to be more loving, less selfish. In other words, he wants us to become better Christians who strive to live for the glory of his kingdom. He will use the difficulties and hardships we experience in the present age to shape us into the people that he wants us to be.
Perhaps you’ve experienced this yourself. Perhaps you can look back at a time of trouble in your life and see how you grew closer to God as a consequence. I know I can.
Let’s give thanks to God that he works in this way. Let’s thank God for working through our lives in the good times and the bad times, helping us to come to know him better. And let’s pray today that we would know God’s transforming love in our lives when things are going well, and when they’re not going so well.