“Wrestling With Romans”
A Protected Species (Chapter 8 Verses 28-39)
The thought of any fear or discouragement due to our sufferings in this world, are now dispelled, in fact anything that happens need not depress or sadden us, it is all working, says Paul, according to God’s eternal plan (v28). The goal for the Christian, the eternal destiny will be reached. We know, is more than just head knowledge, this is the inspired apostolic writing of God-breathed words for us. But of course we know what Paul says here to be true from the rest of Scripture, if we did not know our Bible’s we would despair, we would be thinking that all this evil around us is destroying us, that our circumstances were keeping us from the will and destination God has for us. But like Paul, we know that is not true. We know no one or anything can take us out of Christ’s or out of the Father’s hands (John 10.28ff). We know we are safe. We know that God’s loving providence takes care of those who love him, he is our perfect Father who takes care of his children, we are always under his watchful gaze, within reach of his protective hand. It is this relationship we have been brought into that causes us to love him, it is born out of his covenant commitment to us, and the more he loves us and protects us, the more we love him.
Everything without exception, operates together to bring good, that which is beneficial for us, even the painful experiences and the evils of the world (vv38-39). An excellent illustration of what is being said here is found in the Old Testament, in the life of Joseph. You look at many of the things that happened to Joseph that were, or seemed to be contrary to his faith, one knock-back after another. But in the end, God brought it all together, and Joseph fulfilled God’s purpose, not only for himself, but for God’s people, rescuing them. It is possible if you had hit Joseph with this verse while lying in jail after refusing Potiphar’s wife and her lustful advances, he might have hit you back with something harder. Joseph perhaps did not know what God was doing, or yet understand it, at the time. We often do not. But we walk by faith, and that means we trust him even when we do not know or understand what he is doing. We accept it in faith (v28), that God knows best, and that he is for us, not against us (v31). So you see, for the Christian, it is a no lose situation, whatever happens, we win. But it is God’s working, he does it, he calls us (1Peter 1.2), he purifies us (1Corinthians 6.11), he gifts us (Ephesians 4.8), he keeps us (1Peter 1.5), and brings us safely home. No wonder we love him.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)