Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
What then shall we say to these things? 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 with him graciously give us all things?
—Romans 8:26–28, 31–32 (ESV)
Do you remember the children’s Sunday school song, “I’m all Tangled Up in God”? I can remember crossing my arms over my chest and clasping my little hands and then twisting my arms into a pretzel, over and over again, faster and faster, until the song ended in breathless giggles. What joy!
As I read and reread the familiar verses from Romans 8 above, a couple of thoughts came to mind. That song was one; I’ll explain in a minute. My first thought, however, was about how often Romans 8:28 is spoken out of context and at the very worst moments.
Maybe you, like me, when at a loss for words have recited Romans 8:28 to a cherished brother or sister in crisis: “Everything works out for those who love God.” We mean well; the intention for uttering those cherry-picked words is always to comfort and console—to offer hope for a brighter future.
But when you can’t see through the cloud of desperation choking you, or when someone you love is on the brink of death and you can’t imagine your life without them, it can be hard to process the thought that God will work out everything for your benefit. The words are true, but most often they are met with teary blinks of disbelief.
If you, like me, have been on the receiving end of those well-intentioned words, your response may have been half-hearted acknowledgment—or one of heated anger. Or maybe you said nothing, but you heard the devil whisper, But what if YOU aren’t called? What if what’s happening is because you didn’t love God enough?
In moments of despair, God’s Word offers this hope: He is there for us—always and in all ways. His presence and love have nothing to do with our ability to understand our calling, needs, or His will. Nor is He dependent on us to love Him “enough.”
Take a look at the phrasing of these verses from the New Living Translation:
“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” —Romans 8:26-28
When we don’t know what to say or how to pray, His Holy Spirit intercedes for us. His prayers are in alignment with the Father’s will which is for our ultimate good and His glory. Paul goes on to remind us that God has already given everything for us and in doing so has already proved His undefeatable, unconditional love for us.
“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” —Romans 8:31-12
The Holy Spirit prays for us. The Father makes a way for us. The Son gave His life for us. It’s this inseparable Trinity working in unity that carries us through this life—through the good times and those we can’t bear alone—into our heavenly eternity. If this three-in-one, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good God is for us who could possibly defeat Him? No one.
Does that mean life always goes as we want? Obviously not. We still live in a fallen world cursed by sin and death. But I’m sure you can look back on the times of crisis and heartbreak in your own life and recognize God’s care. Even if you couldn’t see Him in the darkest moments, He was there. Just as He is with you even now.
The prayers of the Holy Spirit intercede for you. With love, the Father continually works to draw you closer to Himself—that is your ultimate good. The gift of the Savior is peace now—and eternally.
So let’s get back to the song. As I meditated on these verses in Romans, I realized that there is so much more going on than God simply working things out for our good. In this one passage, we see the Trinity working in unison, revealing a tiny glimpse of who God is. Suddenly, I wanted to change the words of the song to reflect Him more fully.
I’m all wrapped up, tied up, tangled up in the Spirit.
I’m all wrapped up, tied up, tangled up in the Father.
I’m all wrapped up, tied up, tangled up in Jesus.
I’m all wrapped up, tied up, tangled up in God.
Our God is three in one, and each aspect of God blesses our lives. When we are tangled up—intertwined—in Him, His love, and His will, we can rest securely in His peace. What joy!