There are many scripture verses that are people’s favorites. John 3:16 is probably one of the most quoted scriptures in the Bible. Another popular verse, claimed by many, is Romans 8:28 (NKJV), “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Let’s break down this verse and then look at a story that illustrates how it works.
“We Know” – You really know something when you personally experience it in your own life. Otherwise, it is simply intellectual knowledge. Here, Paul is speaking out of his own experiences. “He knows…”
“All Things” – The important word here is all. In other words, not just the good and pleasant events in life but the not so good as well. “All things” meaning all things. God is in control. He is the Lord of all.
“Work” – To put this another way, there is something happening, something going on amid our experiences. “Even in times of hardship and suffering, even in times of bitter disappointment, even when wrongly treated, Christians can know that God will work amidst such situations”(Spirit-Filled Life Bible, 2000).
“Together” – The various components of our experiences can come together in unexpected ways to enable God to fulfill His spoken purpose in our lives.
“For Good” – These experiences which we face produce benefits and good results both in a moral and physical sense that could not necessarily come about in any other ways.
“To Those Who Love God” – This verse is specifically for Christians. It is for people who have responded to His love, and the gift of His love, Jesus, and in turn love Him.
“To Those Who Are Called” – The word “called” refers to an invitation or even summons. It refers to God’s God’s call to participate in the blessings of the Kingdom.
“According To His Purpose” – This reminds us that God has a purpose in all that He does and all that He allows us to experience. Philippians 1:6 (NKJV), reminds us “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
With all that in mind, let’s look at how Romans 8:28 works out in the life of a believer by observing an example in the life of a man called Brother Andrew. The following account is based on an account from the book Brother Andrew: God’s Secret Agent.
A PLANE CRASH
Brother Andrew had a ministry to believers behind the Iron Curtain long before the curtain came down. He was born in Holland, and as a young boy, his exploits against the Nazis in World War II were legendary.
“Equipped with a fearlessness honored in the Dutch underground and the post-war jungles of the Dutch East Indies and trust in God that nothing is impossible, Andy became one of the first westerners to evangelize behind the Iron Curtain.”
He became known as Brother Andrew, and he knew “God’s purpose for his life, to deliver Bibles to people everywhere in the world who are starved for the Word.”
Early in life, Andrew injured his back. “He was in constant pain, and at times the pain was unbearable.” While he was at a Christian Training School, “Some mornings, he could not comb his hair or dress himself. A few times, he was seized by pain so agonizing that he fell down. If no one was around, he just had to wait until someone found him. Then he had to be helped into his bed until he recovered.”
Nevertheless, despite his back problem, Brother Andrew eventually began his ministry of taking Bibles to believers behind the Iron Curtain. Years passed, the ministry grew, he got married, and he kept pressing on to fulfill his calling.
“But then a trip to the United States in 1971 set Andrew back. Andrew had set up a small office in Salida, Colorado. One day his friend Don was going to fly him to a meeting in Denver. The Beechcraft Debonair climbed off the runway to a height of about five hundred feet. Suddenly, the engine went dead. Andrew’s stomach vaulted into his mouth. ‘Say! What’s going on?’ he cried. ‘We’re crashing,’ replied Don dryly.
The noise became deafening as pain jolted Andrew’s back. Dust billowed around the windows. He looked over at Don. Don’s face was covered with blood. Don was clawing at his seatbelt. ‘Get out!’ screamed Don. ‘We just fueled up!’
Andrew unbuckled his belt and hammered the door open with the butt of his hand. Almost paralyzed with pain, he fell out of the plane. After a few yards of crawling, pain completely immobilized him. He must have been on an anthill because black ants scurried frantically before his eyes. ‘Praise God, we’re alive,’ he said, not caring if a hundred ants bit him or not.’
Moments later, he heard a siren. Pain shot through every nerve as paramedics stabilized him on a stretcher. He was lifted into an ambulance. He must have been given a painkiller because soon he felt nothing at all. At the hospital, he was told that Don’s injuries were superficial. That was the good news. The bad news was the Andrew had a broken back, but there was probably no damage to the spinal cord. With that knowledge, Andrew called Corrie in Holland. His wife’s voice triggered all the anxiety he had built up over several hours. He broke down. ‘I’ll come there as soon as possible,’ she promised.”
ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD
Now, how many of you would agree that a plane crash and a broken back are not very good things to happen to someone? How could God bring good out of such an experience?
“When Corrie arrived in Colorado, she found Andrew encased in a plaster cast from his armpits to his hips,” and it was then that good things began to happen. At least three things in particular.
- TIME TO SPEND TOGETHER – Corrie and Andrew could spend time together. Andrew’s ministry behind the Iron Curtain and elsewhere had taken him away from home and for long periods of time. Now, they could spend time together during his recovery.
- TIME TO DIG INTO THE SCRIPTURES – As Andrew put it, “Never did I realize before how my busy life robbed me of the deep pleasures of Scripture.” Andrew and Corrie enjoyed these times together for several months, too, as it was that long before doctors removed his plaster cast.
- HIS BACK WAS HEALED – His back was healed so well the X-Rays could barely detect fractures in his vertebrae. It was incredible. His back pain was gone. For eighteen years, he had not dared to dig in a garden or ride a bicycle. Later, back in Holland, at the age of forty-three, Andrew took up running again.
So there it is, a plane crash and a broken back that God turned into good as promised in Romans 8:28. God healed his back.
This is a reminder to all of us that God can take the bad things in life and turn them to good. So let us be looking for the hand of God to be working in our lives in all circumstances we face.
Claim Romans 8:28 (NKJV), “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Millwright, A. (1999). Brother Andrew: God’s undercover agent. Barbour Pub.
Spirit-Filled Life Bible – NKJV. (2000). United States: Thomas Nelson Incorporated.