Coffee Mug Verse
“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.”
- Romans 8:28 NASB95
I call this a coffee mug verse. You know the kind that fits so well on a coffee mug or some farmhouse sign from Hobby Lobby, probably in a distressed shade of gray. It’s also one of those canned Christian comfort verses that we all keep in our back pockets when we need to encourage someone who’s going through a difficult time.
None of those things are bad things. I love me an inspiring coffee mug and have my own verse sign that you will have to pry from my cold dead hands (I don’t care how out of fashion it has become, internet design influencers!) I’ve also used this verse many times to help bring encouragement to people who were walking through hard times.
But sometimes, I think I missed the point of it all. Sometimes I misunderstood what Paul was saying and instead pretended that he was saying something he was not. It all comes down to the word good.
All things indeed do work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. But I think we need to take a second to define the word good. Here’s what Paul was not saying… “All things work together for the comfort of those who love God,” or “All things work together for the happiness of those who love God.”
Paul didn’t write any of those things because good isn’t defined by any of those things though sometimes I liked to pretend that he did because those things are good to me. I’m not going to call an uncomfortable chair a good chair just like I’m not going to call an interaction that left me sad as good either. Good, in the Amanda Personal Dictionary, encompasses things that make me feel good.
This is where the confusion can settle in because my definition of good and God’s definition of good are two different things. According to Isaiah 53:10, “It was the Lord’s good plan to crush [Jesus] and cause him grief.” To the onlooker, Jesus’ crucifixion sure didn’t look good and I’m sure that it didn’t feel good but it was good. Actually, the Bible tells us that he was in anguish and that He was marred more than any of the sons of men (Isaiah 52:14). Jesus suffered more than anyone has ever suffered, yet God looked at it and called it good! The verse continues:
“Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD's good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.”
- Isaiah 53:10b-11 NLT
It was good because of the outcome. Our God is intimate but He is God over the big picture as well. Because Jesus suffered—because He endured the cross and its anguish and shame we are able to be made righteous. It was good because God’s purpose was fulfilled.
We were never promised comfort, not on this side of eternity anyway, but we were promised good, and what, my friends, is better than us being transformed to look like Jesus?
“For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
- Romans 8:29 NLT
Okay so not exactly a Hobby Lobby verse but it is a really good one even if it doesn’t adorn your morning coffee mug, and in case you didn’t notice it comes right after Romans 8:28. Do you see what the good plan is? For us to become like His Son! We are destined to look like our Jesus!
All things do work together for good because God uses all things to conform us to the image of His Son. So that hard thing that you’re walking through might not ever end up comfortable or tied up in a neat little bow, it might stay hard, but you don’t have to stay the same through it.
Our God is good and His plans are good even if they don’t feel like it at the moment. Our world doesn’t need more of us but they do need more of Him. We are to be the bearers of His image so it’s high time that we allow our own to be burnt away in the fires of refinement so the people that come out of the flames look like the Son of God that sustained them through it.
I know it’s not an easy ask, and it’s not a comfortable one either but it is the best one. Whatever you are facing today, I pray that you step into the flames clinging to the hope that you will look more like your Jesus when you walk out of them and that, my friends, is good.
Written by Amanda Strauser