How do you explain to a non-Christian that in the midst of tragedy, it is good? When God says that all things work for the good of those who are called (Rom 8:28), I don’t think that he means that things will eventually be good, or that there’s a silver lining to bad things. I think it means just what it says, that it is good. It doesn’t mean that everything is easy, or that there’s never anything tragic or sad. It is good because God is presently working out the tragedy for good and for an eternal purpose.
Or maybe it is good because tragic things make us desperate for God. God uses tragedy to draw us to him. A common misconception among the religious unsaved is that God’s plan for life is for our own personal happiness. (Now, when I talk about happiness, I mean physical earthly happiness, not spiritual fulfillment and contentedness that comes from a relationship with God.) They think that a tragedy cannot be part of God’s plan because tragedies are bad and make us sad, and God is out there just trying to make us happy. God is like some Santa Claus out there just raining down presents and blessings. The problem with this view is twofold. First, the evidence in life is that God is doing a pretty terrible job of making us all happy. Who was the last truly happy person you met? Second, everything in scripture contradicts this viewpoint. There are very few happy endings in the Bible, and each story is wrought with tragedy. Look at the end game – Revelations is everything but happy except for the very few who get taken up to heaven. What every saved Christian understands (at least they should) is that God’s plan and the point of life is to bring glory unto God. Frankly, if God is glorified by our tragedy, God will bring about tragedy. History (and scripture) shows us time and again that only the desperate seek God. I heard a sermon where the pastor said that the gospel of grace is repulsive to the secure and successful. The enlightened religious believe that the plan of grace – that God will freely save – is only relevant to those who are incapable of saving themselves. The irony is that they are right, however, they are blind to the fact that they are in that category. (Rom 3:10)
1 Tim 1:15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost