Someone said this to me yesterday…I get tired of hearing people brush aside troubles with the platitude "All things work together for good" this seems cruel to me, especially when some people are suffering terrible tragedies.
Do you think saying things like this is cruel or helpful?
You are referencing Romans 8:28: "We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him" (ncv); and I think it's one of the most helpful, comforting verses of the bible, announcing God's sovereignty in any painful, tragic situation we face.
God works. Paul's word for this is sunergeo. The verb is the great-great-grandfather of the contemporary term synergy. Paul is saying that God can make all things sunergeo for the good.
God is active and creative, blending the paprika with the parsley, the faith with the failings, the triumphs with the tears, and the strides with the stumbles. Individually the ingredients may repel. But together they appeal. Why? Because we know that God is at work for good.
God uses our struggles to build character. James makes the same point in his letter. "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing"(James 1:2-4).
Today's trial leads to tomorrow's maturity.
Hasn't the oyster taught us this principle? The grain of sand invades the comfort of the shell, and how does the oyster respond? How does he cope with the irritation? Does he go to the oyster bar for a few drinks? Does he get depressed and clam up? Does he go on a shopping binge and shell out a bunch of money to get over the pain? No. He emits the substance that not only overcomes the irritation but also transforms the irritations into a pearl.
Every pearl is simply a victory over irritations.
So what do we do in the meantime? We trust. We trust totally, and we remember: "God is working…God is working for the good…God is using all things."
Any verse can be misused, but that doesn't render it useless. Romans 8:28 was never meant to be a meaningless platitude but to be one of the most meaningful assurances to the weary and brokenhearted of God's sovereignty.