And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (ESV)
After interpreting the troubling dreams of Pharaoh, Joseph the son of Jacob, who was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, was released from prison and elevated to second in command of all Egypt.
During seven years of famine, Joseph’s wise decisions kept Egypt as well others from starvation. It was during the famine that his family came to Egypt for food. After initially hiding his identity, a very emotional Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. Upon the death of Jacob, Joseph’s brothers began to fear that Joseph would retaliate for the wrong they had perpetrated against him. However, Joseph reassured them with these words,“Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”(Genesis 50:19-20 ESV)
Romans 8:28 is probably one of the most quoted verses in the bible. When we find ourselves in circumstances that seem to overwhelm us it is one of God’s great promises that we can rely upon. Our challenge with this verse, however, is coming to grips with the fact that our definition of what is good for us may not be God’s definition. The apostle Paul doesn’t necessarily make it plain that the “good” God is working will always be to our liking; at least not in this present life. God, in his great love, knows the very thing that will bring us everlasting joy and that is the good he is working.
In Romans 8:29 we might get a good idea of the “good” God is working. Paul wrote, For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.(Romans 8:29 ESV) I believe that conforming us into the image of Jesus is the “good” God is working in us. So, every circumstance in which we find ourselves, God is using to fashion us into the likeness or representation of Jesus. The ultimate purpose of our good is God’s glory.
Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God, the exact imprint of his nature (Hebrews 1:3). He is God (John 1:1-2). To be fashioned into the likeness of Jesus is the same as being fashioned into the likeness of God. Not that we become exactly like God or Jesus, but our lives become a representation of their attributes and character. Could anything be more loving of God than to fashion us into the likeness of his son? Could there be a greater good that he could do for us? Could there be anything else God could do for us that would give us everlasting satisfaction? No, no, and no.
Another aspect of this great promise is that there is no chance that it will fail. Paul goes on to say in Romans 8:30, And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.(Romans 8:30 ESV) Absolutely no one gets left behind on the road to glorification (being conformed to the image of Christ). This great promise that God is working in us now will come to fruition when Jesus returns. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2 ESV)
Are you looking forward to his return?
Scriptures for meditation:
1 Thessalonians 5:24