I have been thinking...
Rom 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Rom 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
I hear Christians quoting this verse often. The peace filled, comfortable, “good” working for us because we believe and are called. The verse is especially quoted when a fellow believer might be going through a tough time. We trot it out and quote it in the hope that it will make the person hearing it feel better, because God is working towards our “good”.
Don’t do that. Don’t use it as a way to make someone believe that they will feel “good” and things will work together for their “good” because they love God and believe. (although of course this is part of it)
First define “good” in God’s terms.
The “good” Paul writes about is not the “good things”, “good life”, as many prosperity preachers would have you believe.
The “good” God is talking about is His plan for you. He means for nothing less than eternity with Him. That’s the “good”. And His plan will not, cannot be thwarted.
So, when God, being Love, works towards this “good”, concerning a believer, sometimes it is a trial, an illness, or some other testing that He allows, that works together to the “good” He has in store for us. He builds us through experience, as Paul writes, also in Romans.
Rom 5:3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
Rom 5:4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,Rom 5:5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
And that is why, “bad things happen to good people”. God allows these things to happen as part of His plan for us. He does it in total and utter Love, even though we cannot see it, because no one knows what His plan entails. He does not see them as bad; he sees them in Love. Hard to grasp, but true.
He has told us how His plan will culminate. He has not told us the details.
Use the verse to comfort by all means, but explain it as well.