Many of us, myself included, cling to this verse in the midst of difficulties and trials. For, in part, this verse’s intention is to provide hope that the hard things in life will culminate in some fashion for our good. Platitudes like, “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” barely approach the import of this passage. Jesus says, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:35)
Yes, All things – All our afflictions and trials; all of our persecutions and calamities, all of those numerous long and continued obstacles, and all of those apparent senseless and evil things are among the means which God has purposed for our welfare and our good. But, this promise is targeted. It implies that God has a plan, a purpose, and an intention, for all those who become His disciples. God does not convert people without design; and his designs are not new, they are eternal. What he does. he always meant to do. His purpose is mission. He moves. He has moved since the beginning. (Genesis 1:2)
He moves towards the completion of His ultimate purpose. His ultimate purpose, however you define that, is achieved by Him alone. We can not help God achieve His ultimate purpose. But, He has made us co-laborers in achieving His temporal purposes. He helps us. We are His chosen causality. We become that by heeding the call of sentness and with of our love for Him. All of those difficulties we encounter along the way in His divinely appointed mission do work out for our good, but only when we live as a people on mission for a missionary God. When we move.
We live as sent for the Sender and to the people He has sent us to. We are sent like a weaver’s shuttle, again and again until we are nourished and knit together, made full, and become complete in Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself. (Ephesians 1:23) We are weaved together until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)
The Church, or better still, the people of God who constitute it, can not force things to work out for good. We can not wait motionless for a sign that the good has come or even settle for a shadow good. We must remain in motion, on mission, because of our love for Him and His. It is while we walk together and move together that we are weaved together with God and His people, according to His purpose, that things work out for our good, others’ good, and God’s glory.