If you’ve been part of a local church for a while, then Romans 8:28 is probably one of those verses you’ve heard repeated a gazillion times. There is a reason why that’s true… because the verse is amazingly comforting! However, as time goes by, verses like this one that are used over and over start to lose their potency and effect as they become more familiar to us. Like John 3:16, we simply hear the reference to Romans 8:28 and we shut down mentally because we think we already know everything there is to know about such texts. Today I want to urge you not to abandon those pet verses the church likes to use in certain circumstances. Rather, to revive their freshness in your hearts, write out what the verse means in your own words according to its context in the Bible. Let’s use Romans 8:28 as a test drive for this practice.
Here’s the ESV translation of the verse. I’ve included the first part of verse 29 as well to give context.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…
Often what happens with Romans 8:28 is that people read “all things work together for good” and instead on letting the context define what the “good” is, they define the “good” themselves. In their minds “all things work together for good” means “Eventually, I’ll get what I want”. That’s a wrong and harmful interpretation. The “good” according to verse 29 is “to be conformed to the image of his Son”. So, in view of the proper interpretation, here’s how I’ve written out Romans 8:28 in my owns words:
If you love God, then He has tailor-made everything in your life so that you will become more like Jesus.
Why is it that you are single and so many of your friends are married? Or why can’t you find a job? Or why does it seem like your child is the only one who can’t sit still for more than two seconds? Or why do you have to have major surgery? Answer: Because God knows exactly what you need to become more like Jesus for His glory and your joy and He has designed your life accordingly. Your hardships are specifically designed for you and my hardships are specifically designed for me… with loving intent, perfect clarity and an all-powerful hand!