May 01, 2024

All Things for Good

R.C. Sproul
All Things for Good

Christians can know with complete certainty that even their deepest sorrows in this life have been appointed for their good. Today, R.C. Sproul speaks words of profound consolation from one of the Bible’s most cherished verses.


I remember when I was a little boy, and I would go out and I would get hurt, and I would experience pain. Either emotional pain—somebody would tease me, or make fun of me, or exclude me from a game and hurt my feelings—or if I fall down and hit my head on a rock, and my head would be bloody, and I would run home crying, crocodile tears pouring down my cheeks. And how my mother would meet me in the kitchen, and she’d have her apron on, and she would hug me, and I would be sobbing. You know how little kids, after they’re done crying, they can’t breathe? They’re gasping, and I would be gasping like that, and the tears would still be there. She would take the corner of her apron, and she would stoop over, and she would wipe away my tears. That’s one of the tenderest things that any human being can do for another person. To wipe away their tears. And it was comforting, and it brought me consolation. And anytime pain happened and she wasn’t there, like any other kid in history, my first cry was, “I want my mommy.” Because my mommy was the one who could kiss it and make it go away, make it all better.

But when my mom dried away my tears, they would come back. The Bible says that in heaven, God is going to wipe away our tears. And when God wipes away our tears, it’s the end of tears. We will never weep again from grief or sorrow or sadness. So on the one hand, we know that we are living in a world that the Bible describes as a vale of tears. So we really don’t expect Jesus to walk in here and say to us, “Only good is going to come to pass in your life for the rest of your day.” Now, here comes the shock. Are you ready? We don’t need to have Jesus walk in the room and say to us that the only thing that is ever going to happen to you for the rest of your life are good things because He’s already said it. Let me say it again. We don’t have to fantasize about Jesus walking in here and saying to you personally—I have to qualify it: if you’re a Christian. We don’t have to fantasize God coming here and saying to you who are a believer, who are Christian, that nothing bad will ever happen to you the rest of your life on this planet because He’s already said it.

You say, “Are you out of your mind, R.C. Sproul? Are you crazy?” In like manner, God has already said in so many words to the unbeliever, “Nothing that ever happens to you will be good. Everything that happens to you will be a tragedy.” Is that shocking? You know that the Bible says, “Flee from people who have the audacity to call good evil or evil good.” That’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to make a distinction here that the Bible makes between what I’m going to call the proximate and the ultimate.

The proximate is that which is here in this proximity. It is close at hand. It is near. It is part of our experience. I’m referring to the human level of things, the earthly level. The horizontal plane in which we live every day. On that plane, on the proximate plane of human existence, we deal with bad things every day. Sin is bad. Pain is bad. Suffering is bad. The death of a loved one is tragic to us. And the Bible doesn’t try to sugarcoat that, and the Bible doesn’t try to say that evil is simply an illusion and you have to pretend that it doesn’t exist. No, no, no, no, no. It strongly affirms the stark-naked reality of pain and suffering, affliction and grief, and tribulation. And the Bible says, “In the world, you will have tribulation.”

But a verse in Scripture that has been voted the most popular verse in the New Testament among Christians is Romans 8:28. What does Romans 8:28 say? Let me read it for you briefly. “And we know . . . ” Do we? That’s Apostolic optimism. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” We all know that verse, don’t we? All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and who are called according to His purpose. You memorized that years ago, right? Well, at first blush, that seems to say to us, “OK, there are all kinds of things in the proximate realm that happen to us that are bad.” But God stands over and above that proximate realm. God is on the vertical plane transcending this horizontal vale of tears in which we live, and He has the power to take every bad thing that happens to you and make it contribute ultimately to your good, doesn’t He? Isn’t that what that verse is saying?

Well, think about it for a minute. If ultimately all of these proximate miseries and tragedies and griefs and sufferings and bad things that we experience are taking place, if ultimately God is using these things to bring them about for good, then QED, ladies and gentlemen. Ultimately, it is good that they have happened to us. Do you see that? Ultimately, it is good that they happen to us. The heavenly Father never allows anything to happen to you that is not for your ultimate good. If we could believe that, we could face anything.