“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
“[Romans 8:28] is a soft pillow for a tired heart” (R. A. Torrey)
If tomorrow I found myself stranded on a desert island with access to but a single book to accompany me the rest of my days, I would hope that book would be the Bible. If, perchance, most of the pages of the Bible I brought along were somehow ruined or damaged, I would hope that, of all the portions of Scripture, the Book of Romans remained intact. If the greater part of Romans were to be lost and I could choose one chapter to remain, one single chapter from Romans that would be legible enough to read and re-read for the rest of my life, that chapter would be, undoubtedly, the Eighth. If fire or water destroyed all the other books of that Bible but Romans, all of the other chapters save the Eighth, and all of the verses of Romans 8 except one, one verse among the 31,102 verses of Scripture, my hope would be that the Twenty-Eighth verse would be the one I could salvage. To say that Romans 8:28 is my favorite verse of the Bible would be quite an understatement. I believe that this verse is the most comforting and reassuring in the entire Word of God.
Romans 8:28 is not the most important verse of the Bible. It speaks nothing about obtaining Salvation, overcoming sin, or how to find peace with God. Yet it is extraordinarily profound in its ability to comfort the one who has already learned of these other things. A hinge upon which the door of eternal security hangs, Romans 8:28 serves as the climax of the doctrinal section of the Book of Romans, a gateway through which the weary traveller enters into the glorious safety of our Lord’s inexhaustible providence.
“All things work together for good” is the lens through which we peer at the incomprehensible Divine truths which lie beyond. “If God be for us, who can be against us?“, “Who is he that condemneth?”, and “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” make it conclusively evident that the child of God stands on a Foundation which cannot fail! Not only looking forward, but also to what lies behind, Romans 8:28 brings reconciliation to those words of peril which precede it. He who suffers and groans (v. 17, 18, and 23) knows now that he does not do so in vain. For even the trials, tribulations, pains, anguishes, travesties, and disasters which befall the Christian are accomplishing the purposes of God. What was intended by the enemy for evil, God has used for good (cf. Gen. 50:20).
Romans 8:28 reminds the believer that, even in the darkest storms, we serve a God Who is in control of all things. Nothing comes upon us that God does not either enact or permit. Though we suffer in this world, though we are harmed, bruised, and battered, nothing can ultimately destroy us nor prevent us from entering into the presence of our Lord when this life is over. Our safety and security comes not from our ability to hold onto Christ, but His ability to hold onto us. When all is said and done, good will come upon everyone who loves God and belongs to Him. What a soft pillow indeed!
“Once you walk through the door of love into the massive, unshakable structure of Romans 8:28 everything changes. There comes into your life stability and depth and freedom. You simply can’t be blown over any more. The confidence that a sovereign God governs for your good all the pain and all the pleasure that you will ever experience is an absolutely incomparable refuge and security and hope and power in your life. No promise in all the world surpasses the height and breadth and weight of Romans 8:28.” (John Piper, from his sermon titled “Called According To His Purpose“)
To God goes all glory. In service to Him,