One of the great contributions that the Heidelberg Catechism brings to the table of Reformed confessions is that it is so very much first-person and pastoral in nature. As I have noted before, instead of speaking in the abstract, it uses words like “I” and “me” and “my” to convey spiritual truth. And the language of question 26 is no exception to this rule.
The whole phrase that the catechism uses here is: “whatever evil that he sends to me in this valley of tears will be turned toward my good.” That is a remarkably powerful statement. The bottom line is that this world is filled with awful experiences. There are wicked people both inside and outside of the church and tragic events that take place all around. Yet, as Christians, we can be assured that all these events are under God’s sovereign control (Ephesians 1:11) and as a result, they will be used for our good (Romans 8:28).
The real question that we must ask is, what constitutes our God? Romans 8:29 clarifies this as well — that it is to conform us into the image of Christ. And thus, the evil that we experience has a purpose and it works into God’s plan — even the wicked being tools in God’s hands to refine the elect. That is the result of a sovereign God.
Some would argue that God is not absolutely sovereign over all things. And those who claim this, cannot claim the language found in this catechism question — or the promises that God makes to his people in the Bible. In fact, the only assurance that we can have of any good in our life is based on the premise that God is sovereignly in control…but if he is sovereignly in control, then all things are under his control and in his plan — and will be worked for my good — little by little, conforming me into the image of Christ.