I think most people reading and hearing this text are drawn to the first part... that God is working in all things for good, or God works good of all things--however one translates it there is comfort: the notion that nothing is coincidence for those who love God, that there is a plan, that nothing bad is ultimate, etc.
But tonight, in an otherwise unremarkable reading of that text, I heard the last part again: "...and are called according to HIS PURPOSES." Perhaps what struck me had to do with the recent and terribly unfortunate situation on the Hill, which is to say, at the University of Tennessee, Rocky Top, Go Big Orange!
I am a sidewalk alumnus, a devout and faithful follower, a cut-me-and-I-bleed-Orange sort of fan, and FOUR NUMBSKULL BASKETBALL PLAYERS were, on New Year's Day (which is the church calendar is the Holy Name of Jesus) pulled over for speeding. During the traffic stop two handguns were discovered, one with the serial number filed off, and also a baggie of weed in a backpack bearing the name of one of the players.
What WERE they thinking?
Anyway, one of them, a couple of days later, tweeted about the strength he was drawing from his strong faith, that "God will not put you in a situation without providing a way to deal with it." Something like that.
On one of the message boards I follow a guy posted, "God had NOTHING to do with putting you in this situation, dude. This is your doing." Indeed.
It is one thing to believe that those who are engaged in God's purposes find a deeper good even in difficult times. It is quite another to say that difficulties of our own making either interest God or obligate God to work good in and through it.
Should God do so, we can be thankful for such grace. But grace is a gift, not a given.