Romans 8:28-30 (NIV)
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. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
I find it interesting that we find one verse which is perhaps one of the most beloved verses in all the Bible juxtaposed next to one of the most argued verses in all the Bible.
Knowing that God is working all things together for good is consoling to the one who asks why God allows evil and suffering. It is all part of God's all encompassing will which allows bad turns to reach an ultimate destination. A tool made of steel isn't useful until it has been tempered in the fiery furnace. This verse does not say all things are good, rather that all things including the bad things will ultimately, somehow, accomplish good according to God's will. We haven't reached the end of the story yet.
Now we come to the controversial part, notice that this verse is only comforting for those who love God. OK, that makes sense, but then it goes on to say "who are the called according to His purpose." What does that mean? Do we love because we are called or are we called because we love? The next verse says that it is according to God's foreknowledge. OK so He knew who would love him right? Of course He knew, He knows everything. Then it says He predestined it. Now we're back to saying the reason he foreknew was because he predestined it that way.
I give up, what can I say? Umm...Oh, that is answered in the very next verse!
Romans 8:31-32 (NIV)
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?