And we know that for those who love God, God works all things together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
In my opinion, Romans 8:28 is the surest rock of truth for anyone experiencing suffering. But it is not exclusively for those going through tragedy and evil. The truth of these words apply just as much to all who regret choices and mistakes made in the past, doubt that what they are presently doing is right, and have trouble charting a future course of direction. These words make certain that which is uncertain. The certainty lies in the simple phrase “we know”.
We know that the future is uncertain. We are not omniscient beings, nor do we worship a personal fortune-teller God. However, in the face of this uncertainty, we know a certain truth. We know that God works all things together for good. But there’s a qualifier. This is only true for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.
Yet this qualifier should not leave us disheartened. If you are like me, you ought to quickly realise that we would be hard pressed to describe ourselves as people who truly love God, and just as often we doubt that we have been called according to his purpose (v.29 clearly points out that this purpose is to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ). But this is a condition that God himself fulfills.
Do we love God? By ourselves, no. But his love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. And so we are given the heart and the capacity to love him.
How do we know we are called according to his purpose? If you see Christ as supremely valuable over all things, and your heart utters an Amen to your destiny of becoming like him, then you can be sure that you are called according to his purpose. Yes, it is true that our treasuring of Christ does not immediately and consistently translate itself into words, deeds and thoughts that honour him every moment of our lives. But that is really an issue of our hearts being mired in sin. In the short run, a mind that acknowledges this truth is sufficient proof. However, a heart that consistently fails to express this truth over a long time would demand that you examine yourself closely to see whether you are in the faith.
So rest deeply in this certainty. We know that God is working all things together for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose. The foundation of this truth lies not in our own effort, but also in the work of God. The God who is working all things together for our good has already worked things together for our salvation (I use this word loosely).
How does this truth translate into ministry?
Stop regretting mistakes you’ve made in the past. Stop letting your past choices cripple you. There is much to learn from the past. But the past should not shackle you. All our mistakes and unwise decisions are still being weaved together by God for our good.
Stop worrying whether what you are presently doing is right. Just make sure you are being as biblically faithful as you can be. If you come to the realisation a few months later that there are things you are doing that is out of sync with biblical wisdom, then just shrug your shoulders and shift gears. After all, we are only called to be faithful. We are not perfect and so we ought to expect the expression of our faithfulness to grow in accordance with our growth in the grace and knowledge of Christ. All that we are doing is being weaved together by God for our good.
Finally, stop worrying about the future. Remain faithful to what revelation you have received from God’s Word. Plan in all biblical wisdom. And then rest in the knowledge that God is working all things together for our good.
There is nothing that escapes the sovereign control of God. Ultimately, his purposes will prevail, whatever we do. So persevere in ministry work as a faithful servant and child, and trust in the sovereign workings of God. Enjoy the freedom that this truth gives you to work with all wisdom and excellence, in eager expectation that his purposes will be accomplished.