It is time to put down the corporatespeak filter and listen to the word again because in spite of the way it has been made to walk the streets in service of C-officer blindness, synergy is a word worth noting.
It is a compound of syn “together” and ergon the verb “to work” thus it means to work together. This is the sense of common labor toward a goal, of all the gears meshing so the machine goes forward. No matter what some doof in a suit has tried to tell us, we don’t ‘synergize our mutualities’ or whatever other nonsense they’re trying to peddle.
But now we come to the real meat of the verse. If all things work together for good, doesn’t that mean that only good things will happen ‘for those who love the Lord?’ Doesn’t that mean that if bad things are happening I must not love the Lord enough? Um, no. It means that in the chaotic mess of stupidity, good intentions, and selfishness of life, God is at work to bring forth good from all the things that happen.
The good is, to be more precise, something all these things are working into. In other words, the goal, the destination of all this working together is The Good. The actual events can be good, evil, or indifferent but they are being worked together for good.
How can this be? Picture a really good (or at least good enough) parent. They have a “big P” Plan for our lives, that we grow up and be healthy. Having started with this plan, they spend our growing up years revising the plan in different ways attempting to bring us toward that goal. At their best, they are working toward our good, they are working toward our health.
If we want to push the image a bit, they are at work with their plans to in as many ways as possible bring us toward The Good. They may be only one person, the decisions we make and circumstances we find ourselves in may not always be the best (OK, they’re mostly dumb when we’re kids), but regardless of all the things that happen, with a good enough parent, many of them are brought toward our good.
Now picture the real, perfect, loving parent who could be capable of taking every stupid thing we do and every awful thing that happens to us and turn it toward good. For faith holders, that perfect parent is God and the promise is for those loving God.
Note that there is no actual measurement listed describing how much we are loving, only that we are loving. Also, in this verse love is a participle, an -ing word. It is not a static, measureable, ‘you aren’t loving God enough’ kind of verb. It is a dynamic ‘I am doing this with the whole of my ability to do it’ kind of loving. It is the sort of loving that comes and goes, waxes and wanes as we live our life, it is a loving that is a response to God’s act of reaching into our being and calling of us is ‘a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied.‘
All things working together into good does not mean that only good things will happen in our lives but that God is at work to wring every single bit of good from every single thing that happens.