That’s not exactly how I first memorized that verse 20 years ago in the KJV, but it’s close. Romans 8:28 is one of those verses that can easily be misunderstood and/or wrongly interpreted. What does the verse not say? It does not say everything that happens will be good. It does not say that. All things that happen work together for good. It’s not the same thing. Some things that happen in life are great. We can see the blessing in them right off. Some things are painful, traumatic, or sorrowful, and we rely on God to know what he’s doing and see us through. Most days fall into the category of ordinary. They just get lumped into the pile of just another day. But God uses every event – good, bad, and whatever – to our ultimate benefit. Think of Romans 8:28 like baking biscuits.
Maybe you have to be from the South for this analogy to work. I’ve never preached outside of the southern United States. Maybe it helps if your mom knows how to cook, but you can go into McDonald’s and use your imagination. Biscuits start with flour. Mom uses Martha White self-rising flour, but it doesn’t matter. I would never go into the kitchen, take a big handful of flour, and stuff it into my mouth. It would turn into a doughy paste and ugh… Flour is no good for snacking on. Grandma probably cooked with lard, but now we use Crisco. That’s “vegetable shortening” for some of you. Again, no one takes a big tablespoon full of that and washes down their flour with it. I’ve never liked buttermilk either, but some people do. My mother has been known to use milk too old to drink, but not exactly rotten yet, and put that in the biscuits. While mixing all these ingredients, the oven has been preheating to 500 degrees. You or I would not last too long at 500 degrees Fahrenheit, but it does wonders for biscuits. All of these components, disgusting on their own, when put together and baked in the oven for only a few minutes, produce big, fluffy, flaky buttermilk biscuits. A hot biscuit almost slices itself into, and butter melts into one in seconds. I could eat a dozen.
Romans 8:28 is like that. Each single event, taken individually, may not look like much. It could be awful. But God works them together, like Mom’s biscuits in the oven, to produce growth, blessing, and bring his purpose in our lives. Paul says that now we see through a glass darkly. We don’t always understand what it is that God is doing in us at the time. But we trust him to do a good work in us.