The things that work together for our good in Romans 8:28 are those things that bring us into conformation with the image of Christ. In other words, God causes all things to work together for the good that makes us more like Christ. Thus not only the good things that happen to us but also the bad things and even the neutral things, that is, the normal, everyday things that we may not even notice or that we take for granted, work together to conform us to the image of Christ, thus making us more like Christ.
Another term for this is sanctification, which begins with salvation through the shed blood and broken body Of Jesus Christ. Once we are saved by our belief in Jesus Christ (John 3:16), our sanctification begins. Sanctification is the supernatural, Godly process in which we progressively become more like Christ in our daily walk with Him.
Sanctification is not always pleasant. God uses many ways to sanctify us. He uses the Scriptures, preaching, praising, fellowship with other Christians to make us more like Christ. He also uses disciplinary actions, adverse circumstances, trials, and tribulations, etc., to gradually mold us over time into the likeness of Christ.
What verse 28 does not say is that God causes all things that work together for our good are necessarily pleasant, easy, comfortable or even safe for us. It simply means that all or any of the things that work together for our good are designed to conform us into the likeness of His Son.
Jesus suffered throughout his lifetime. He was a poor stone mason and carpenter that worked with his hands during the first years of His life. That was hard, tiring, and back-breaking work. During His ministry on earth, He was without a home, He traveled many places and always on foot. He did not get enough rest, the people always thronged around Him because they wanted to be healed. He was persecuted by the authorities, especially the religious leaders. He was eventually scourged, beaten, and nailed to a cross where He, and innocent man, died.
We are called to be like Christ, and if necessary to suffer with him, even unto our deaths (John 11:4; Rev 2:10). As a result, all the things that work together for our good many not seem so good to us. So don’t think the Romans 8:28-39 is all about our comfort, pleasure, leisure, and the things that seem good to us; it is about all things, good, bad, difficult, uncomfortable, etc. It is for anything whatsoever that will mold us more and more into the image of God’s Son.
Originally Published 8/17/22