All Things Work Together for Your Good

July 24, 2023


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One of the most encouraging and comforting things that a Christian needs to constantly remember—particularly when going through times of trouble, trials, and tribulations—is that our heavenly Father loves us and is in sovereign control in our lives. Even if we don’t always understand exactly why we’re going through such trials, God has promised in His Word that “All things work together for good to them that love God, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

He will never permit anything to happen to you, His child, that He will not somehow work together for your good. Of course, you may be tempted to feel like a lot of things have happened that don’t look very good to you. But with time, you finally found out sooner or later that somehow or another they did work together for good.—Or you will yet discover that, whether in this life or in the next!

The following true story illustrates this principle:

One chilly winter morning, a fishing fleet launched out from a small harbour on the east coast of Newfoundland. In the afternoon there arose a great storm. When night settled, not a single vessel of all the fleet had found its way back into port. All night long, wives, mothers, children, and sweethearts paced up and down the windswept beach, wringing their hands and calling on God to save their lost loved ones. To add to the horror of the situation, one of their cottages caught fire. Since the men were away, it was impossible to put out the blaze and save it.

When morning broke, to the joy of all, the entire fleet had returned safely to harbour in the bay. But there was one face which was a picture of despair—the wife of the man whose home had been destroyed in the fire. Meeting her husband as he landed, she cried, “We are ruined! Our home and everything in it were destroyed by fire!” But the man exclaimed to her surprise, “Thank God for that fire! It was the light of our burning cottage that safely guided the whole fleet into port.”

Jesus has told us, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). He also promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Even through the darkest and most trying times, the Lord is always “a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me” (Psalm 23:4).

No matter what hard turns your road may take, Jesus is with you. He cares, and He will somehow work even the seemingly darkest and most discouraging circumstances and conditions together for your good, just as He has promised.

Sometimes we stand at life’s crossroads
And view what we think is the end;
But God has a much bigger vision,
And He tells us it’s only a bend.

For the road goes on and is smoother,
And the pause in the song is a rest;
And the part that’s unsung and unfinished,
Is the sweetest and richest and best.

So rest and relax and grow stronger,
Let go and let God share your load;
Your work is not finished or ended,
You’ve just come to a bend in the road.
Helen Steiner Rice

We know that the Lord loves us and that He is our place of refuge and ever present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). Therefore, when we are facing times of trouble, tragedy, discouragement, and loss, our first response should be to seek the Lord in prayer for His answers, guidance, strength, and encouragement for our time of need. No matter what we face or what seemingly bad things befall us as Christians, we can trust that God will work these together for our good, although it may not always be revealed or understood by us immediately or even in this life.

Sometimes the Lord allows seemingly bad things to happen to us—such as injury, illness, or loss—to draw us closer to Him, to keep us humble and more dependent on Him. For this reason, the Bible tells us: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2–4).

At other times, the Lord allows us to experience the consequences of our sin or poor choices, and He allows this to correct us and keep us from straying from His path and ways. “‘For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he corrects each one he accepts as his child.’ As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children” (Hebrews 12:6–7).

Of course, most of us don’t usually feel that discipline is very good news, but the Lord says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

The Lord uses chastisement at times in our lives because He loves us and He knows it is needed to keep us close to Him. Although this is hard for us to take sometimes, it is a token of His love, what C. S. Lewis has termed God’s “intolerable compliment”—a necessary part of our training to help us to grow in our faith and to become more Christlike.

Sometimes God may allow things to happen to us to get our attention, particularly if we become distracted or too concerned or burdened about the cares of this life to where our minds are not stayed on the Lord. Such times remind us once again of the real eternal values: God and His Word and His work!

The great psalmist, King David, came to this realization when he was afflicted, and he wrote, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray; but now I keep Your word. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn Your statutes” (Psalm 119:67,71).

Sometimes the Lord allows things to happen that disappoint us or look bad to us because He mercifully wants to spare us from serious danger or trouble or something that would not fulfill His will and purpose. Often He does not answer our prayers the way we have requested Him to because He sees the future and knows what will best fulfill His plan for our lives and for the lives of others.

The Lord’s answers to our prayers are infinitely perfect, and when we ask for bread, He will not give us a stone. Sometimes we may ask for a stone that looked to us like bread, and all the while He was giving us bread that to our limited perspective looked like a stone! (See Matthew 7:7–11.) The following story illustrates this:

One stormy winter night in 1910, a group of travelling Christian musicians arrived at the city of Riga, on the Baltic Sea, to fulfil a concert engagement. The weather was so bad, however, and the concert hall so far out of town, that the conductor of the orchestra tried to persuade the manager of the music hall to cancel the concert. He felt that no one would venture out on such a terribly stormy and wild night.

The manager refused to cancel, but he agreed that if no one turned up, the orchestra could leave early in order to catch the night boat for Helsinki, Finland. When the musicians arrived at the concert hall, they found only one person sitting in the audience, a stout old gentleman who seemed to smile at everyone.

Because of this old music lover, the musicians were forced to play the entire concert. They were, therefore, unable to leave early and catch the boat. After the concert was over, the old man continued to keep his seat. Thinking he was asleep, an usher nudged his shoulder. Only then was it discovered that the old man was not alive. The musicians had played an entire concert for a dead man!

But in doing this, they also had saved their lives. For the boat they would have taken to Helsinki went down that stormy night. Although His children in that orchestra had earnestly hoped to avoid playing in that concert so they could catch the boat, the Lord used these seemingly disappointing circumstances to spare them from disaster.

Another reason that the Lord sometimes allows seemingly bad things to happen to us is to make us better vessels, so we will be more useful for His service, more humble and more loving. The fiery trials burn out the dross in our lives, the storms of testing blow away the chaff, and the deep waters teach us to swim. The Lord often uses such times of testing to give us great victories, even out of seeming defeats, as we draw closer to Him and seek Him with all our hearts. Otherwise, the tendency of human nature can be to sort of rock along business as usual.

Whatever God does or allows in the lives of His children who love Him, He always does so in love—and He has promised to work all things work together for good to them that love Him. So when things look darkest, don’t look down. Look up and start praising the Lord for His goodness! The Lord loves praise and thanksgiving—His Word says that He dwells in the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3).

Always remember that the Lord loves you, and life’s darkest hour is often just before the dawn. Whatever trials may befall you, don’t despair, don’t give up, don’t lose hope. Look to Jesus in your times of trouble, and trust in the promise in His Word that whatever you’re going through, He will truly work together for good. “For every one of God’s promises is ‘Yes’ in Christ, and through him we also say ‘Amen’ to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

From an article in Treasures, published by the Family International in 1987. Adapted and republished July 2023. Read by Jon Marc.

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