ALL THINGS Work Together  

 Romans 8:28, 29

These verses have given indescribable comfort and inner strength to multiplied millions of believers as they have experienced great burdens and trials. Charles Spurgeon, known as the "prince of preachers" referred to these verses as "A Soft Pillow For Tired Hearts."

We have, first, the promise, "And we know that all things work together for good…" . Next, we have the ones identified to whom the promise is made, "…to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Last, we have God’s purpose for each believer explained, "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren."

What God Did Not Say

God did not say that all things He allows to come into a believer’s life are good in themselves.

When we hit our thumb with a hammer there is no way we’re going to believe people if they say, "That’s good." Can any of us believe "it’s good" when the doctor tells a member of our family "You have advanced cancer and you only have a few weeks to live."? After a drunk driver kills several members of our family in a head on collision, are any of us going to believe "that’s good?" When our child gets shot and killed in a school massacre like the one at Columbine High in Littleton, Colorado could we possibly accept that as "good"? No, these things aren’t good. God didn’t say they were.

What God Did Say.

God said He makes all things work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

God is the "Master Chef" at perfecting redeemed believers. He knows the exact recipe required to make each one of His children more and more like Jesus. He also knows that some of the experiences He must allow to come into our lives will be very unpleasant.

When an earthly chef prepares a gourmet dinner he/she will set out several things that are unpleasant to the taste…salt, pepper, flour, corn meal, meat tenderizer, baking soda, vinegar…. A big spoon full of any of these things would be very unpleasant to most of us. The master chef will then begin to mix the unpleasant ingredients with other ingredients that may be pleasant and the finished meal provides delight in every bite..

In this life each believer is in the mixing process and some of the ingredients God allows to be mixed in are not pleasant by themselves. But the Master Chef has stated that the end result will be believers who become like His Son, Jesus Christ.

We Are To Trust When We Do Not Understand.

When Job went through his great time of trial he did not understand why. Even God had testified that Job was upright; feared God and turned away from evil. Job also continually offered sacrifices to God in case his family members sinned. Yet, Job lost virtually all his possessions in a stroke of time including his seven sons and three daughters. Shortly afterward, he lost his health. He was covered with sore boils from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet.

Again and again Job stated that he could not understand why such a calamity should happen to him. But to his credit, he made a statement that serves as an example to every believer passing through the fires of trial, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him…" Job 13:15. One preacher commented "We cannot always trace God but we can always trust God."

God has allowed us to look into the lives of some of His greatest saints and see that when we do not trust Him in trial it leads to depression.

Moses was probably the greatest leader of history. By the power of God He led Israel out of Egyptian slavery and through the Red Sea to freedom. Through him God gave a tabernacle, a priesthood, and the law. Through Moses God gave water from the rock and manna from heaven to sustain the people. Yet, the people grumbled continually. When the "mixed multitude" influenced the rest of the Israelites to complain about the manna and cry for the flesh pots of Egypt, Moses’ trust in the Lord was shaken. He raised this complaint to the Lord, "Why have You afflicted Your servant? …Did I conceive all these people? Did I beget them, that You should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a guardian carries a nursing child…" I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now...and do not let me see my wretchedness!" Numbers 11:11-15. The rest of the story tells how God provided other leaders to assist Moses. God also provided more meat in the form of quails than the people could eat. It also tells us that after all the trials of the journey and rebellion of the people, Moses led them to the border of Canaan. When he said goodbye they were ready to cross the Jordan and possess the promised land.

In a similar way Elijah was the most colorful prophet of Old Testament days. Perhaps his crowning feat was his victorious contest with the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel. Baal gave no answer to his priests, but Elijah’s God answered by fire. As a result, the people present from Israel renounced Baal and fell on their faces crying out, "The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God." I Kings 18:39. Following that Elijah prayed and God sent rain to Israel for the first time in 3 ½ years. Right in the midst of the victory party Queen Jezebel sent word to Elijah that within 24 hours she would see to it that he was dead.

We can hardly believe our eyes. Elijah is so afraid that he runs for his life to Beersheba (a very long trip). He then goes another days journey into the desert. We see him under a juniper tree requesting the Lord to let him die. "It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life for I am not better than my fathers." I Kings 19:4. The great prophet Elijah forgot to trust His Lord in a trial that he could not understand. But God still had plans for Elijah. God nurtured him back to physical, emotional and spiritual health and used him again in effective ministry before taking him to heaven in a whirlwind.

Although it may be one of the hardest things we are called upon to do, we need to learn to trust our Lord when we go through trials that we do not understand.

God still makes bad things work together for good

In the recent past our entire nation was shocked when two students of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado carried out a massacre of fellow students. Armed with guns and bombs, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot and killed twelve other students and one teacher. They wounded over twenty other students leaving several in critical condition. After all that they took their own lives. This senseless massacre shocked our entire nation into questioning how this terrible thing could have happened. Politicians, psychologist, educators, law enforcement officers, talk show hosts, and ordinary people agonized as to where to place the blame and begin working on a solution.

Different ones placed the blame on faulty parenting, school administrators, easy availability of guns, violence in videos, movies and TV, the taking of the Bible and prayer out of the schools, rock and roll musicians, Bill Clinton, drugs, and abortion. A fellow student was probably as close as any. He said, "I place the blame on Harris and Klebold."

Largely left out by the media was the good that came about. Many thrilling reports came out of Littleton Colorado. The following comments are gleaned largely from Charles G. Shaw of SHAW International and youth pastor, Hansel E. Lee, Jr.

Cassie Burnall gave her life for Christ at Columbine High. Two backslidden Christian kids watched her get killed and came out vowing to never compromise their faith again as long as they live. Other Christian kids made the same vow…hundreds of teenagers are turning to Christ…One group gathered with the soccer team to pray. A little girl shared the gospel and all of these kids got on their knees and accepted Jesus Christ.

Churches have been filled every night, all week, …all the youth pastors (some 400) in the area are meeting on Monday…the senior pastors on Tuesday…a revival has begun.

There were at least three very committed Christians killed in the massacre at Columbine High, John Tomlin, Rachel Scott, and Cassie Bernall:

John Tomlin was a committed believer and active in mission work.

Rachel Scott was a committed believer who planned to go into missionary work in Africa. Several students testified how she impacted their lives with her witness for Christ.

Cassie Bernall had been involved in witchcraft and was suicidal. During that time she was totally anti-Christian. Her parents had forcibly taken her to a youth pastor’s office. When she walked out the youth pastor’s reaction was, "Wow, she is a lost cause…" But the parents, the youth group and the youth pastor continued to pray. Six months later Cassie walked back into his office and said, "You’ll never guess what I did today. I gave my life to Christ…" After that Cassie was an aggressive witness for Christ on campus. Dylan Klebold knew Cassie. They had participated in witchcraft meetings together. Klebold asked her if she believed in God. Knowing what she faced, Cassie searched her heart to see if she was prepared to die for Christ. She answered, "Yes, I believe in Jesus." Klebold responded, "What For?" and shot her in the head to assure her death.

Teens were saved at the funerals of all three of these Christians…over 75 at Cassie Bernall’s funeral. 10’s and 50’s were reported coming to Christ at other memorial services.

The gospel was  given in program after program on local stations and was shared worldwide over CNN and CNN International and others.

The massacre at Columbine High was a terrible thing. But for these committed Christian teens, God made even this terrible thing work together for good. Thousands of lost souls were saved and thousands of believers began being conformed to the image of Christ. In addition, virtually every sector of society began searching their hearts as to what they could do to reduce influences that contribute towards producing another Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold.

Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scriptures quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted


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