"And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose."
A great illustration of this verse is simple. Think about a hot, fresh, glazed donut. Is your mouth watering yet? Now think about the things that go into that donut to make it so yummy... While some may be appealing in their own right (sugar) others are not so tantalizing (lard). Without the lard, the donut wouldn’t work, but we’d still rather not think about it being in there. Life is kinda like that sometimes.
If we focus on the individual events in our lives, we can see that some are good, and some are not. Bad things happen to good people. Some days it seems the whole world is out to get us. We wonder why God allows pain and suffering. We accuse Him of abandoning us when things get rough.
There are those that say that any trouble a Christian encounters in life is a result of sin, the "you brought it on yourself" response. Can't count the number of times I've heard that one. In the Bible, we see that everyone faces difficulty, even those who God Himself proclaims to be righteous. Take Job for example. His story is wrought with difficulty, and he clearly brought none of it on himself. "And Jehovah said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job? for there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and turneth away from evil: and he still holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause." (Job 2:3 ASV)
Then there are those who say that God has no control over the bad things that happen. Think that over for a minute... God, the supreme almighty Creator of the universe, has no control? God is sovereign. There is nothing He can't do, other than that which is against His nature. While I don't believe for a minute that He causes the painful, difficult things in this life, I do know that He allows them, just as He allowed Satan to torment Job.
So where does that leave us? We're still looking at life as just sugar or lard. God has a more eternal perspective of our lives. He sees it all coming together at the end, and He knows that the pain and heartache will all work out to bring glory to His name. He sees the donut.