The NASB says "God causes all things to work together for good." The NIV also makes God the subject but makes "all things" the sphere of his working, not the object: "In all things God works for the good" The King James and the English Standard Version make "all things" the subject: "All things word together for good." All these are possible from the Greek wording. When the King James Version says, "all things work together for good," it does not mean they work that way on their own, or that "all things" are good in and of themselves. It means that God causes all things to work together for good.
- This is a specific promise.
It is specific to a certain group of people: To those who love God and are called. "To those who are called, loved by God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ" (Jude 1). It is specific in its purpose: God works all things together for good. What is good? Good can only be defined by God's terms. His very name means "good." God is good. "We are His workmanship" (Ephesians 2:10). We are his making and we are promised nothing enters our lives but that God turns it to good in His work in us. "He also did predestinate us to be conformed to the image of his Son" (Romans 8:29). God is interested in character, not your comforts; your reflection, not your reputation.
- This is a supernatural promise.
Faith in Christ guarantees that God's work in you begins and never ends (Philippians 1:6).
- Joseph suffered because of the sin of others, but God turned it to good. "When he summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread, God sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave" (Psalm 105:16-17). "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today" (Genesis 50:20).
- Job suffered because of God's sovereign actions, but God turned it for good. People gathered around Job "And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the affliction that the Lord had brought upon him" (Job 42:11). "You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful" (James 5:11).
- Jonah suffered because of his own sin, but God turned it for good. He enters a ship to run, endures a storm, and is cast overboard by a shipmaster. The belly of the whale is Jonah's redemption; it is messy and not neat, but .... "And Jonah entered the city and preached; and the people believed" (Jonah 3:5).
- This is a strong promise.
When things don't go the way they should, God always makes them turn for good. "God's goodness is like the Hebrew Bible; begin at the end and read backward" (A.J. Gordan). The English word "God" comes from the contraction of the English word "good." The basis of this promise is not your belief ("God said it, I believe it, that settles it!"), but rather, the basis of this promise is the fidelity of God to fulfill all His promises.