I have a friend in ministry who has a wonderful habit of invariably finishing a conversation—especially when talking of difficult problems or people—with the words, “It is all good.” His words are based on the wonderful promise of Paul in Romans 8:28, where those loved by God are reminded that God is actively working all things in their lives together for their good. The things themselves may not be good—such as temptation, grief, monetary loss, indecision, persecution, or sickness—but God orchestrates them all in such a way that they prove beneficial both temporally and eternally. The “good” in this case must be defined on God’s terms, not ours. It’s fundamentally tied to that which enhances our reliance upon God and our likeness to Christ. After all, God’s goal is to bring us to perfection in His presence (Rom. 8:29; Eph. 5:27; Jude 24). The big takeaway, then, from this verse is that nothing can touch or threaten our lives that lies outside the scope of our heavenly Father’s providential care. Even the bad can be good for us, as Joseph lived to learn (Gen. 50:20). By faith we must come to see that our troubles, in the end, are nothing but severe mercies.
The late Reformed theologian John Gerstner said that there were four categories of things. Firstly, there’s the good good, which speaks of things that conform to God’s law both in action and motive. Secondly, there’s the bad good, which speaks of righteous actions that are animated by impure motives. Thirdly, there’s the bad bad, which speaks of unmitigated evil. Fourthly, there’s the good bad, which speaks of things that do not conform to God’s law or perfect will but are redeemed nonetheless in the providence of God. We are talking about God’s ability to bring good out of the evil we experience. The bad things remain bad, but they are only proximately bad because God is able to turn them, given time, into blessings in disguise.
There is always an upside to down in God’s kingdom. That is why the end of a thing can be better than the beginning for the Christian (Eccles. 7:8). Therefore, we need to cultivate patience in the midst of our trials, in the knowledge that God is actively working on our behalf to bring us to a better day (Rom. 5:3–5). Give God time to move you beyond the times you are in to better times (Eccles. 3:11). Above all, we must give God our trust and fight the temptation to question His goodness (Job 13:15). We must trust the heart of God even when we cannot trace the hand of God. C. H. Spurgeon once said, “Everything that happens to you is for your own good. . . . You gain by loss, you grow healthy in sickness, you live by dying, and you are made rich in losses. . . . It is better that all things should work for my good than all things should be as I would wish to have them.” Every cloud is silver lined with God’s providence!
Remember, it’s all good!