“All things work together for good” is the part of the quotation usually given while omitting the words “to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” That is one fact to remember—when quoting the verse, include those words. The fact is, unless one has been called by God (through the Holy Spirit who then also “draws” him to God), the promise should not be made in counseling. Moreover, the promise is to those who “love God” as the verse teaches—a fact often not stressed even though quoted.
What is this promise? It is a statement about the providence of God. He is not a God Who fails to care for His creation, but One Who plans His work, then works His plan. He is personally directing the circumstances involved in whatever a person’s situation may be at any given moment. That is why the promise makes sense, and can be relied upon.
The verse is one that should be used frequently in one’s counseling ministry. Why? Because it is reassuring to those who find themselves in situations that seem to indicate God has forgotten them. This verse indicates that God is in the problem (it is not a random occurrence), that He is up to something in it (there is a definite purpose to it) and that He is up to something good (to be learned, later, perhaps in the distant future or even after death).
Use the verse, stressing that one must be a believer (effectually “called”) who loves God, and that there is something that He has in mind (the difficulty is not without “purpose”). Use it often but explain it as you do so that your counselees will understand the facts about it which are often neglected. When these are neglected, the verse often loses its meaning and fails to bring its comfort—the very things for which it was given and which you quote it.