I remembers first struggling with the promise of Romans 8:28 when my dad was suffering the excruciating pain of cancer and radiation. I wondered how "all things" could possibly be working for good in this case. What could possibly be good about cancer and severe pain? For that matter what could possibly be "good" about any pain or heartache or trial? It is also something I pondered when my husband was diagnosed with a devastating neurological disease. It was something I thought about when I was struggling with the challenges of caregiving, and saw the effects my husband’s disease was having on his body. It was something I was confused about when my husband passed away four and a half years later.
The key to understanding this verse is to realize that not all things are good in themselves. Sin has wracked havoc with our world, and there are many experiences in this world that are not good or pleasant in themselves. God, however, works both the "good" and the "bad" events of our lives together for our ultimate good.
It has been said that life is like a tapestry. When you look at the backside of a tapestry it does not look beautiful. There are knotted off ends and threads that seem to have no meaning or beauty. When one turns the tapestry over, however, one sees a beautiful picture or design.
Dear caregiver, when you see the difficulties and heartaches of caregiving you are seeing only the backside of the tapestry of life. God, however, is bringing all the threads or events of our lives together, both the good and bad, into a beautiful tapestry. The Lord already sees the top part of our tapestry of life. The Lord already sees the beautiful end results of what He is accomplishing in our lives. When we do not understand the reason for the difficult circumstances in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones we must simply trust that the Lord is working out all things in our lives for His glory and to accomplish His plan. He is also working out all things for our ultimate spiritual good.
The ultimate spiritual good that the Lord God is seeking to accomplish in our lives is that we might become more like Jesus. (Romans 8:29) He desires that we become more like the Lord Jesus every day in our thoughts, attitudes, and actions. In order for this to happen there must be a conforming process taking place in our lives. This conforming process often can only occur during times of trial and difficulty in our lives. Gelatin is only able to be conformed or shaped to the mold into which it is placed after it has been dissolved in hot water. So we too often have to go through the heat of trials and difficulties to become more conformed to the image or likeness of Jesus Christ. God has the pattern for our lives all figured out. He knows and understands the beautiful tapestry that He is weaving for our lives. He knows the beginning from the end. We must trust the Lord to do His beautiful work in our lives even in times when life's events and circumstances seem very difficult and overwhelming!