Three little boys were in the back yard playing. Pretty soon they got into this old thing of “You know.” I think you are familiar with “You know.” One child would say, “My dad is bigger that your dad.” Then another would respond, “My dad is better than your dad.” Unfortunately it usually ends with, “My dad can beat up your dad.” So when the three boys were in the back yard one said, “My dad knows the Mayor.” A second boy wanted to top that and he said, “That’s nothing! My daddy knows the governor.” When it was the third boy's turn, the first boy said, “If your dad doesn't know the president you will not win this one.” Just as it happened to be, the third boy's dad was in the kitchen as they were in his back yard. He overheard everything that's been said and he wondered how his child was going to respond. His son was very calm in his response, “With my dad, it's far better than with both of your dads – he knows God. Higher than that no one can go.” Tears came to the eyes of his father as he thought by himself, “Nothing better can ever be said about me.” The question this morning is, how many people in the world can affirm the words from Romans 8: 28, “And we know that in all things God...?” You see, many people in the world have heard of God; they don't question His existence – just like we read in James 2: 19, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” But they don't know God – for what He can do in their personal lives and how He will bring all things to fulfillment. Let's pause for a moment and think of what we know in the world we live. Is there anything we can say of with certainty – “We know.” We don't know when Covid-19 will be completely over and we don't know if something similar will follow. We don't know anything about employment to be in place for years to come. We don't know anything about human resources to last as there are more and more countries where basic necessities aren't met. We don't know anything about world peace in our future – What if North Korea will launch missiles on innocent countries? You see, we can't say of anything in the world – “We know.” But the peace we have in our hearts is that God knows everything about the past, the present and the future. He holds everything together. Through the prophet Jeremiah He brought words of assurance that will stand till the end of time – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29: 11
St. Paul wrote to Christian believers in Rome who were oppressed – to them it felt like they suffocated under the grip of Roman authorities. They witnessed the fate of so many people in their community – people were dispossessed of what they earned over years as it went into the coffers of Cesar; others were severely punished for not worshipping the idols that were placed throughout the city of Rome. It wasn't for nothing that the apostle included thoughts from verse 23, “...but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.” When we groan inwardly it could be because of some kind of disease that we suffer from. But, for the Romans groaning was because of what they suffered for their stand in the Lord. And St. Paul wrote encouraging words to them in this his eighth chapter – to many the greatest chapter ever written in a book.
From verse 28 there is first of all the thought – 1 Know That God Is At Work. The placement of the word “God” in this verse varies in different translations of the Bible. In the King James it says, “All things work together for good to them that love God.” The New American Standard Bible reads, “God causes all things to work together for good.” And we already affirmed that in the NIV the word “God” is at the beginning of the verse as well. But can you appreciate with me friends, no matter where God is placed in sentences, verses or any other place we can think of, He will always be there at work. Even when there are those who want to take God out of the picture, He is more at work than what any human mind can ever comprehend. The insignificant stable of Bethlehem, because the Inn was shut to the Saviour of the world, became one of the most important landmarks in the world. There the world learned that God's ways are different from our ways and His thoughts far above our thoughts. Why did Paul want the Romans and all Christians over the ages to know that God is at work? Because, in the midst of persecution and hardship, God is present and working.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who went against the Nazis, was imprisoned at Flossenburg Concentration camp. There during an Advent he preached to prisoners and said, “The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come. What Bonhoeffer wanted to tell those prisoners was, “Do not loose heart, God is at work – even if you will only experience the freedom of heaven.” Can we appreciate from the words of St. Paul that God is at work to create something better? Earlier in chapter eight he rejoiced about the fact that our future glory will outweigh out present sufferings.
There is a second reality from Romans 8: 28 – We Know that 2 God Works In All Things. What was it he wanted Christians of all ages to know? God works in good times and in bad times. Isn't it true – when we experience good things, we feel that God is with us? In Genesis 26 we read of Isaac that God blessed him to the point that he became a very rich man. He had many live stock and his territory was expanded. He became prosperous to the point that Abimelek who was a foe, said to him, “We saw clearly that the Lord was with you.” Genesis 26: 28. It was a human response. God presence equals good health, a good bank balance, prosperity of all kinds, many believe. But you know, that just isn't true. God works sometimes through the hardships of people. That Catherine Marshall, wife of Rev. Peter Marshall experienced first hand. She was struck with tuberculosis and was bound to a wheel chair. God shaped her for something better and she became a motivational speaker. She told people, “God prepared me for His service.” You see, we never want those trials in our lives, we only want smooth sailing and not the storms of life. But you know, we all can have the wonderful assurance – When things are hard God is there and like the potter He will form the clay into the best shape possible.
There is a last assurance from Romans 8: 28 – We Know that 3 God Works For The Good. From our human hearts we want to ask – “What can ever be good in suffering? Why would a loving God allow children to be orphans on the streets in many African countries? Why would He allow children to be in a cancer hospital? Why would He allow all the injustices?” But then the apostle Paul made a clear point – there will come a time when all bad and hurtful things will come to an end. The good that God works is that we will be more than conquerors in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ. Many believe that the best would have been for God to remove all the hurtful things from life. But you see the consequences of sin will always be a reality, until the time of our adoption as sons and daughters of God. Author Irving Stone made a study of the lives of people who accomplished great success in life – people like Michelangelo, Vincent van Gogh, Beethoven and others. His conclusion of those people were – “Though they were knocked down by life's circumstances, they all rose up to something better.” Can we appreciate the reality? – those hardships God allowed in our lives were to bring the good out of us, as much as we don't want to hear it. But you see, God will bring us to completion as only He can.
Friends, let's have the peace and assurance in our hearts – We Know that our God is in control. In Him all things will work for the good.