Nothing is isolated. If we look at isolated events and try to judge the goodness of God’s providence by them, we will always fail to see it. Providence uses all things together, like gears and wheels in a great piece of machinery. Be sure you mark that word ‘work’. Paul does not say all things have worked together for good, or all things shall work together for good, or all things somehow turn out good! He says, ‘All things work together for good’. What does Paul mean?
God’s providence is always wondrously good!But he does not necessarily mean that all things work together for our immediate good, or our temporal good but, rather, for our spiritual and eternal good. More importantly, Paul wants us to understand that all things work together for the collective eternal and spiritual good of all God’s elect. Nevertheless, the promise of our text is still personal, namely, that God graciously works all things together for my good. Without question, that which is good for God’s elect collectively, and good for his glory, is good for me!
This is always true, even though that which is ultimately good for me may be the exact opposite of what is presently good. I have corresponded for a number of years with some dear saints of God who were converted in prison, some of whom are still incarcerated. One of them wrote to me a while back, and said, ‘If I had not been in prison for murder, I would never have learned the gospel’. He understands Paul’s teaching in Romans 8:28.
God’s providence is always executed in the wisest manner possible. We may not be able to see the reasons and causes for specific events in our lives, or in the lives of others, or in the history of the world. But our lack of understanding does not prevent us from believing God. We bow to his sovereign will, evident in all his works of providence, and we worship him (Romans 11:33).
All the works of God’s gracious providence are executed in perfect holiness and righteousness. Even the way he uses the evil works of men, and even devils, to achieve his purpose is totally free of sin on his part. Though he has preordained and permits deeds of wickedness, sin cannot be imputed to the Almighty (see Romans 9:17).
All God’s providential works are executed with the irresistible power of his omnipotence. Everything that comes to pass in time is brought to pass by God’s sovereign providence, according to his eternal purpose, which he purposed in himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. He works all things after the counsel of his own will. His counsel always stands. He always does all his pleasure in all things everywhere.
Always to be praised
God’s providence demands and deserves our unceasing praise. John Gill wrote, ‘We should give to him the glory of all; observe with wonder and gratitude the various steps of [his providence] respecting ourselves and others; and put our trust in him for things temporal and spiritual; and at all times cast our care upon him, who cares for us; seeing it is, and always will be, well with the righteous, in time and to all eternity’.