And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:28-29)
This is the first time I’ve seen the connection between the goodness of God’s workings in verse 28 with a more specific explanation of those workings in verse 29. God works all things for our good…FOR whom he foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son. All the things working together for our good are designated as those things which affect us with Christ’s image.
At our last singles meeting, Leslie shared with our small group (and I’m paraphrasing here) about her desire to not just agree with God that He defines what is good; she wants to embrace what God defines as good. And how do we learn to do so? Leslie shared one way from Romans 12:2. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that GOOD and acceptable and perfect will of God.” As, by God’s grace, our minds are renewed through the truths of Scripture, we learn to better discern His goodness.
One specific point of application: for single people, the season of singleness may indeed be a gift (Paul himself says so), but how often do we really believe that? How often am I tempted to doubt God’s goodness in a “married person’s world”?
Here’s one thing that has proven to be an enormous help in renewing my mind. It’s actually from Bruce Ware’s closing remarks in the “Why Do We Trust God?” message I blogged about recently. My notes read as follows:
God’s love ensures that you will not be kept from any—and every—good thing that God can rightly give you that will be for your building up and growing. Do you believe that? His goodness is unsurpassed. Doesn’t God obviously withhold from single people the joy of marriage? The answer is no. He withholds from them the temporal joy of the shadow of marriage that is male/female union, but He grants them the reality of marriage that is Christ and the church. And no one has forsaken mother, father, sister, brother, potential spouse, but that he will be given multitudes more in this life and in the age to come. Never once think God has kept from you this wonderful, joyous gift of marriage. Take your hope in Him.
At work, I recently shared the above quote with Shaun (who got married a few weeks ago). After a contemplative pause Shaun said, “Wow, I’m glad to know I have a shadow of a marriage.” That made me laugh, but in a very real sense it’s true! Human marriage is a beautiful-but-dusty mirror image of the “real deal” that I already have in Christ!
So, the purposes of our good God are being accomplished for our good—as God defines it. His blessing is ever present because it is based on the finished work of Christ, not our faltering performance. Even in trials and suffering, the goodness of God is hard at work. “You have…seen the end intended by the Lord [in Job’s life]—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful [i.e., good]” (James 5:11). “Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:19). “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 118:1).