“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…”
Genesis 50:20 (NIV)
There are many paradoxes in life. I am thinking of things that appear to be evil when first examined or experienced but turn out to be good in the end. For example the Bible in John 16:21 refers to the pain of childbirth and then the joy of the woman after she has delivered her child. So what begins in pain ends in delight.
There are many of these paradoxes that any one of us can mention. Most, if not all, of us have experienced such situations in our personal and public lives. Occasionally we see the purpose for the pain soon after it comes to us. However there are those vexed situations where we suffer pain and nothing good seems to come from it.
When I was visiting a fine widow recently she told me of a daughter of hers who has suffered much and no one can determine what good can come from the situation. Now, several years into the suffering it is still a situation where they have no idea why the difficulties should be on this gentle woman. Her life is exemplary, everyone likes her, and there seems no reason for the presence of pain in her life.
The man who uttered the words of our verse today was Joseph. He had a dreadful life for years. All his older brothers hated him and when the opportunity arose they sold him into slavery. For some years Joseph worked hard for his owners but then was falsely accused and thrown into prison for a few more years.
Joseph had no idea why he was made to suffer in spite of how faithful he was to God. He lived honourably in spite of the temptation to renounce God and everything about the God of his father. Years after he was made to walk the road of sorrow he was finally brought out of his dark time and became the greatest man in Egypt after Pharaoh.
People such as Joseph and Job who have such dreadful suffering would be greatly tempted to take the realities of their lives the wrong way and decide serving God is not worth it. But they did not take it the wrong way and they prospered greatly in the end for walking with God and the way being exceptionally painful.
If you are on a lonely road today and are thinking of giving up, think again. Many others before you have suffered and endured because they believed God had a better day ahead of them. They waited for God to make it clear to them why they suffered. Many had to wait for years to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Those who wait patiently for God to make it clear are the ones who see that good can come from tragedy. No one who waits for God to bring to light the good from their suffering has ever regretted the wait. Are you willing to wait for God even if it takes years? If you belong to God, the day will come when you, like Joseph will be able to say, “God meant it for good.”