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And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Romans 8:28-29

It may be one of the most oft-quoted verses of the New Testament when life throws curveballs, but for the born-again Christian Romans 8:28 isn’t the end of the story. The same Apostle Paul who declared that “all things God works together for the good of those who love Him,” immediately followed up in verse 29 with a statement that clarifies and sheds light on the path of the Christ-follower’s being “conformed to the likeness of [God’s] Son.”

What if these verses were intended to be read as a unit and not independent of each other? Together with the Savior’s sacrificial death and resurrection they assure us, as recipients of Jesus’ grace through faith, that He carved five beautiful birthmarks into our hearts to encourage, sustain and see us through the “all things” of verse 28.

He foreknew us individually.

              He predestined us as His own.
                            He called us as His disciples.

                                          He justified us on the Cross.

                                                        He sealed us through the Resurrection.                  

        

These birthmarks travel with us in this life. They remind us not so much of “who we are” but of “Whose we are.” They’re there through the “all things:” the sicknesses, the disappointments, the nail-biting decisions, the deaths of loved ones, the rejections, the pain, the suffering, the guilt, certainly the sorrowful repentances and pleas for forgiveness. In the midst of every last bit of the chaos and the confusion, God molds, melds, shapes the Christ-follower in order to – don’t miss this – conform us into His likeness.

 This very conformity, this glorification, is the “good” of which Paul speaks in verse 28. Man and woman were created in God’s own good and perfect image but the image was marred in the fall to sin that took place in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1-3). When Jesus returns, His followers will be restored to that good and perfect image (1 John 3:2). As we wait for His return in the here and now, our birthmarks remain etched into our DNA to remind us that each trial we experience, each fire we walk through, each storm we withstand is experienced, walked through and withstood with Him. For some of those times He’s at our side; through others we’re in His arms. But make no mistake, He’s there, fully involved in our lives. Bending. Filing. Forming us bit by bit into reflections of His own image.

Working all things out for good.