by: Dr. Bob Gray Sr.
Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Here are two people who have cancer. They have the same type cancer. One has cancer in vain and the other does not. Two women lose husbands to death and one is in vain and wasted while the other is not in vain. Two people have a teenager who breaks their hearts. One couple’s suffering is wasted and in vain and the other is not. Two young ladies who have illegitimate children with one having heartache in vain and the other does not.
Two teenagers go to college with their dads and moms. They both have friends, church and a pastor back home, but one is bitter and their suffering will be in vain while the other is not. Two women go to college with their husbands and they live in undesirable circumstances. They do not see their husbands as much as before. One is suffering in loneliness and it is wasted and in vain while the other is not. Two couples have children with deformities. One suffers in vain while the other does not.
My admonition is do not suffer in vain! I have observed heartache after heartache of God’s dear people in these decades of ministry. I also have observed how people have taken it or not taken it. It ultimately seems to fall in two categories. Those who suffer in vain and those who do not suffer in vain but fruitfully. What is the difference? In Romans 8:28 we have probably the most famous verse in all of the Scriptures.
IT DOES NOT MEAN ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD FOR YOU
I hear people who have heartaches say, “Well, everything works together for good,” which is just not true. All things do not work together for good for you. What does it mean?
IT DOES NOT MEAN ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR CHRISTIANS
Neither does this verse mean that because you are a Christian that all things work together for you either. This is just not true.
IT DOES NOT MEAN ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR THE GOOD OF THE ONE WHO LOVES GOD AND CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE
It does not mean if you love God and are called according to his purpose that all things work together for good for you. It means that all things work together for good, but it may be the good of someone else.
Here is a deacon in the Bible who is preaching. His name is Stephen. He is stoned to death, and while Stephen is being stoned I do not see anything good for Stephen here. Stephen is dying and I see nothing happy about that. It did not work together for good for Stephen did it? However there was a young man holding the coats of those who were stoning Stephen and his name was Saul of Tarsus.
Saul of Tarsus saw the way Stephen died and it pricked him and he never could remove himself from the way Stephen died. Saul of Tarsus became Paul the Apostle that great preacher who brought the Gospel to the Western world. Perhaps the greatest missionary who ever lived came into existence because of bad that happened to Stephen.
All things work together for good for Saul of Tarsus because Stephen loved God and was called according to his purpose. It does not necessarily mean that all things work together for good to the person who loves God. Please do not misunderstand me for Stephen did not have it real bad because he did go to Heaven, but the way he went was not very good.
IT DOES NOT MEAN ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD NOW
It does not say that good which comes from your suffering will be in your lifetime. It does not say it will be now, tomorrow, the next year, later in your lifetime or how long later. It simply does not say what we want it to say.
THE PERSON WHO DOES NOT LOVE GOD, HIS SUFFERING IS IN VAIN
What a sad thing to have cancer for nothing, or lose a loved one for nothing, or lose a teenage for nothing, or to go through the jaws of death to deliver an illegitimate baby for nothing, or to go to college for nothing. What a tragedy to go through sadness or a sorrow or bereavement for nothing.
If you do not love God, you suffer in vain and your suffering is wasted. This love spoken of here is a godly love, a deep love, a deep abiding love, a deep commitment and a deep trust.
THE PERSON WHO LOVES GOD TAKES SUFFERING AND USES IT FOR THE GOOD OF SOMEONE, SOME WHERE, SOMETIME OR AT SOME PLACE
You may not ever see it, know it, or understand it, but if you love God then your suffering will be for the benefit of someone, some where at sometime or at some place. There is a word that is missing from the Christian’s vocabulary and that is the word “unselfishness.” Everything is centered on us.
A person who loves God and does good God will take their suffering and use that suffering somewhere for somebody, sometime, and at someplace in time.
GOD PUTS THE SUFFERING OF A PERSON WHO LOVES GOD AND DOES THE WILL OF GOD IN A BOTTLE FOR FUTURE USE FROM HEAVEN’S DRUGSTORE
In other words Romans 8:28 assures that not one ache, or pain, or sorrow or heartache will ever be wasted to the one who loves God and is called according to his purpose.
Now with that in mind it is not as hard for you or me to suffer. If I stop and realize that some day this is going to help someone, some day, somewhere or at some place then I can make it. So selfish people can’t take it because it is all about them. Unselfish people can take it. That is why you admire certain Christians who are going through some awful thing in their life with a smile on their face and say, “I don’t think I could do that.”
The suffering that comes my way may help my wife, my sons, my daughters, my grandchildren, my preacher boys or my preacher friends. If I love God and I am in the will of God and then I suffer, then that means I am not wasting my suffering. I will not suffer in vain. Hold it! I will still suffer, but it will not be in vain.
You who are selfish and do nothing but think of yourselves, may I say in the first place you cannot escape suffering. In the second place, you will be miserable because you are selfish and your suffering will not benefit any one, including yourself.
God said if I love Him and if I’m in His will, then when I do suffer He will take my suffering and bottle it up as a medicine for someone else.
Can you imagine going to Heaven and walking through gates of Pearl, walking on golden streets, having a spell enjoying Heaven, then looking down from Heaven and watching God use your suffering to help others.
Revelation 13:14, “…and their works do follow them.” However, those of you who do not love God, and I’m not speaking about a fondness either, and those of you who are not doing good, your suffering is in vain and it is wasted on you. What a shame! You’re complaining, griping, finger pointing, cruel words and hateful attitude helps no one.
Thank God, God sometime or somewhere will use every tear I have shed, and some place for the good of someone. Every hurt that I feel or have felt and every heartache will be used someday for the good of somebody. No tear, no pain, no sorrow, no grief, no bereavement, and no heartache is ever wasted.
What a shame to sit there in a rest home for nothing. What a shame to have cancer for nothing. What a shame to have lost a loved one in death for nothing. What a shame to have suffered physical illness for nothing. What a shame to have a physically handicapped child for nothing. What a shame to be left alone as a mother to rear children alone for nothing. What a shame to have a church split for nothing. What a shame to be betrayed by so-called friends for nothing.
Please understand this, anybody anywhere can love God, can do good for God, and be in the will of God if he or she is a child of God. The tragedy is that no one is going to escape suffering. Either you will suffer fruitfully or fruitlessly.
Dr. Bob Gray Sr.