And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).
When I read this verse I’m reminded of Joseph, the son of Jacob, who at a young age was sold into captivity by his brothers who hated him (Gen. 37). Joseph was carried to Egypt by slave-traders where he was sold to a man named Potiphar. After a short time, Potiphar’s wife also treated Joseph unjustly and lied about him, which resulted in his incarceration for several years (Gen. 39). But the Lord was with Joseph and orchestrated his release from prison and promotion to the right hand of Pharaoh (Gen. 40-41). God then blessed Egypt with seven years of agricultural prosperity before sending seven years of famine upon the land. These events set the stage for God to move Joseph’s brothers geographically into Egypt and to bring them directly to the feet of Joseph (Gen. 42-45). Once there, Joseph’s brothers were afraid of him, fearing he would retaliate for the evil that was done to him. But Joseph interpreted the events of life—including the evil actions of his brothers—from the divine perspective, and this gave him the spiritual capacity to respond to his brothers with love rather than hate, with grace rather than revenge. Joseph told his brothers, “Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance” (Gen. 45:5-7). And later he said, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Gen. 50:20). Joseph operated from the divine perspective, whereas his brothers operated merely from their human viewpoint. From the divine perspective, Joseph realized God had orchestrated all the events of his life for a specific purpose and had incorporated the evil actions of his brothers to help develop his character and to strengthen his faith. Joseph’s divine perspective and strong faith enabled him to stand in God’s will and to show love and grace to those who sought his harm.
Through Scripture, God gives His people the capacity to see all of life from His vantage point. Having God’s perspective allows us to rise above the daily grind of life and the petty actions of others and realize there is a sovereign God who rules over His creation and directs the activities of mankind—even evil activities—for His own good and the good of His people. For this reason, we can understand Paul’s words and know “that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Let’s face the day with God in mind and let faith rise above our circumstances and feelings.
8 thoughts on “When God Uses Evil Actions for His Good”
The story of Joseph is my favorite. I’ve always been struck by his faithful integrity. God definitely fulfills his good purpose through his suffering. Great post!
Thanks Dawne. I love the story of Joseph and how God worked in his life. Gives me hope concerning my own life and the people/troubles I encounter. I’m sure you understand.
The presence of evil in our world, and its place in God’s economy has fascinated me for years. Particularly in I Kings 22 – which we will soon be studying at Tyndale Bible Church. In particular it has intrigued me in verse 23 where the Bible says “… the Lord put a deceiving spirit in the mouth …” God used the spirit of deception to work His will and work. I find that very interesting. Along with His using evil – or bad events to His advantage as in your example above – leads me to believe we react way to quickly to “events” in our lives, without letting them play out to what is God’s conclusion. Even as I am older, that is the difficult part. Simply waiting.
Thanks for making us think. God gave us a brain for use. We need to use it!
Thanks for your words Terry. Very well stated.