Does God have a specific plan for me? This is a question that has been weighing heavily upon me recently. I have a good friend who is convinced that God does not invest Himself in the day to day events of our lives; but rather, His expectation is that we will be obedient to His word, share the gospel, and remain faithful through life’s many ups and downs.
Recently, I came across an article written by someone I respect addressing this very question. Citing Romans 8:28, the article was affirming that God does, in fact, have a definite plan for my life. Unfortunately, I found the author’s biblical support rather unsatisfying. Not that he said anything particularly wrong, he just didn’t answer what was troubling me. I want to know if God is bringing about His will for me in this life, or am I simply careening from one trial to another, trying to be obedient and persevering until my earthly body wears out.
Romans 8:28 is a verse we all know. However, it has been so often taken out of context and used, with good and kind intentions, to tell us that this particular rainstorm is going to abate and we will soon be basking in the glorious sunshine of unforeseen blessing. Since tribulations are a promised element of the Christian life, most of us have been quoted this verse at one time or another. Many of us have even used it in this way. But what does this verse really tell us?
“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).
Is this a “Cheer up, it’ll all be ok” kind of verse? Not really. Should this encourage us? Yes, absolutely. In looking at this passage of Scripture the first thing we should recognize is that God is absolutely sovereign. “God causes all things…” tells us that He has the power and authority to harness everything in our lives and bring them harmoniously into His perfect will and purpose.
The second thing we see is that this is meant for a specific people. The “good” that God intends is for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. So, what is the “good” that Paul is talking about? What does it mean to be “called according to His purpose”? Thankfully, we don’t have to look very far. He answers this question in verse 29.
“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren…,” (Romans 8:29, NASB95).
Here, we see that God foreknew and predestined who would love Him and be called by Him. And, the “good” that He works “all things together for” is their conformity to Christlikeness. Our conformity to Christ is the purpose which we, the redeemed, are called. In addition, verse 30 reminds us that His ultimate plan for us is our own glorification. Glorification made possible by Christ Himself.
“and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified,” (Romans 8:30, NASB95).
It turns out that it will all be ok.
So, does God have a plan for our lives? In a word, yes. His plan is that we, as those called by Him, will be conformed to the image of His Son, and He will use “all things”—failure, success, sickness, pain, and even our own sin, to bring about this sanctifying work. This is His plan. Is it yours?