Seeking to be transformed into the image of Jesus

Good or Bad?

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives – Joseph in Genesis 50:20.

I’ve been meditating on this verse the past few days.  The thought came up in class that we often don’t know the difference between good and bad for our lives.  God is able to take the things we think are bad and transform them into good.  Joseph’s life is a great example of that.  His brothers sold him into slavery out of jealousy.  But God saved many, many lives because of it.  Even while in Egypt, Joseph did what was right – and ended up in prison…again, seemingly bad, but in the long run used by God for good.

The cross of Christ is another example.  A heinous instrument of torture used to put to death an innocent man…so that through him salvation would come.  From a human perspective, how could God treat the sinless Son of God this way?  But, from the perspective of love and good, it was God’s plan and the only way we could experience love, forgiveness, and eternal life.  God is all about transforming hopeless and horrible situations into beautiful and blessed situations. 

My family proves this point too.  For example, years ago I was laid off from my job because of the first Gulf War.  That was bad.  But, I was able to get an internship at our church that included free housing which was good.  Plus we got to see God provide for our needs in unexpected ways which increased our faith.  That was good too.  Another example is Angie’s health.  She suffers from chronic pain with fibromyalgia.  That’s bad.  But it has helped her to develop a deeper prayer life and a more consistent dependency on God.  That’s good.

In the middle of challenges and hardships, my first thought is rarely, “Hey, this is an opportunity to grow and be stretched and to see God at work.”  I have a tendency to grumble and complain and pray, “God, why me?”  But could it be that the old adage, “No pain, no gain,” is true?  Could it be that it is in the difficult seasons of life we grow the most?  British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge once wrote, “Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my 75 years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence has been through afflictions and not through happiness.”

Truthfully, when I think back over my life, I see that this is so in my life too.  It is through challenge and difficulty that I have grown the most.  It is through the times where I had no idea how I would make it through that God showed up in the most profound and amazing ways.  Perhaps, slowly, I am learning to look at life with from a different perspective.  Maybe I’m beginning to reserve judgment of good or bad until more information is in.  I hope so!

The Psalmist wrote, “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!”  What a great promise!  So encouraging to think that God stores up goodness for his children!  Even though life can seem incredibly hard at times…strained relationships; broken dreams; illness; failure; discouragement; loss…God loves us and stores up good for us! 

Lord, make me aware of your goodness today…despite my circumstances.  Give me a thankful heart…a praise-filled heart!  Fill me afresh with the wonder of how you trade beauty for ashes and turn mourning into dancing!  Amen!

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