For we know that all things work together for the good to those who love God...
This Bible verse can be as as squeezing lemon juice on a paper cut. And just as effective. It is not that this verse is not profoundly true. It is how it is so often used. To be specific this verse is often given to people in the middle of great trial or suffering. Perhaps it has been a great help to many but if we are not careful it can be superficial adage that actually cause someone to hurt more than they already do.
Here's why: Because in the midst of real suffering and trials things seem bad. Real bad. It can be nearly impossible to locate the good in some situations this side of heaven. The death of a child or loved one, betrayal of a spouse, or chronic sickness are just a few situations that, in the middle of the process, nothing seems really good. Giving someone this verse can actually be the most insensitive thing to do at the moment.
So why then does God give us this verse? Did he mean for us to tack it on like a bandage to the wounds that come our way? God gives us this verse because he knows we wont be able to see the good at times. But he doesn't leave us hanging in a state of wonder of what the good is. We don't have to look for the good in the situation-- it might not be there. God has told us what 'the good' is. Many people only give the Romans 8:28 answer to suffering people and leave off the fact that it is vitally attached to the rest of the chapter and more specifically the very next verse. Verse 29 says For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. Bingo! There's the good. We don't have to guess He tells us. Through suffering and trial we are being changed to be more like His son. Why is this so good? Because God really loves his son. He delights in him. He is zealous about him. God is making us more like the one in whom he greatly delights. This is good. What is more he gave us the rest of chapter to show us what the good is (read on about how inseparable His love for us is).
This doesn't make little of the suffering or how hard it is, it just tells us that in the middle of bad God is giving us the greatest gift that can be given. His process is mysterious but he has not left us in the dark as to what He is up to. So the next time you are tempted to squeeze this verse onto a conversation make sure you are not using it in a way that stings.