“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” – Romans 5:3-5.
Joseph is one of my favorite characters in the Bible for a number of reasons. One of them is seeing God in the midst of tragedy. You know the story: As the favored son of Israel’s patriarch Jacob, Joseph had dreams of a bright future. But all that changed when his brothers sold him as a slave.The slave traders took Joseph to Egypt, where he suffered through some painful years.
Joseph could have become bitter because of what his brothers had done to him and the injustice of his imprisonment. Instead, he worked diligently and grew in wisdom and responsibility. The authorities found him faithful and promoted him to positions of authority. In time, Joseph became second in command to Pharaoh and coordinated efforts to sustain the nation during a seven-year famine.
Through this experience, Joseph learned to see his enemies, who had evil intentions, as instruments in the hand of God. Not only did Egypt and other nations benefit from Joseph’s life, but his own family did as well. When Joseph’s brothers traveled to Egypt to find food during the famine, they repented of the evil they had done to Joseph, and their family was reunited. Joseph explained a key to forgiveness when he told his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” (Genesis 50:20).
God is an expert at bringing good out of bad. The pain and trials are often the very things that God is using to shape you and make you into the believer of character He wants you to be. He wants to use the bad for good in your life. Here is one of the “good things” that come out of crisis and suffering. You turn to God with a dependence like you have never had before. And when that happens, God is there waiting for you with the strength, peace, and love you need.
- How would you have reacted if you were in Joseph’s shoes?
- Have you seen good come out of bad in your life?
- What can we do this week to trust God to turn the bad into good in our lives?