When I was very young, my mother gave me my first Bible. It was a small, white, leather-bound King James Bible. Given my youth, and the archaic language in that particular revision of the King James Version, the text was incomprehensible to me. But I knew it was a special book, I cherished it, and I cherished the reference she wrote inside the front cover.
“And we know that all things work together for good, to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 – KJV)
Trying times are disheartening. They can be frustrating – even angering. Just last evening, I was reduced to tears of frustration, discouragement, and even anger – anger at life, anger at God, anger at anger. Someone I love dearly is fighting valiantly to hold onto his life. “Where is the good in this?” I asked without knowing whom I was asking … someone, no one, everyone. I cannot see the good in it, or the good coming from it. I am not God.
This young man, in his early thirties, is battling his own mortality, a battle thrust upon him through a health crisis. The ongoing struggle each of us has with our deteriorating bodies is an unwelcome reminder of the extent to which we are mortal men and women.
Sometimes the battle is against our own failing health, or choices we made that could have, and should have been made differently. Other times, the unpleasant circumstance is brought upon us through the ill-will of others. In such cases, it is absolutely their desire and intent to cause us trouble.
Today we look at three specific instances of this in scripture, and we see how God’s goodness and power is brought to bear upon those to whom evil is intended. I hope and pray you find encouragement in these examples, and can use them to remain positive in the midst of your own storm.
Joseph’s own flesh-and-blood brothers sold him into slavery during a fit of jealous hatred. As a result, Joseph ended up becoming one of the most powerful men in the history of the nation of Egypt. When he and his brothers were reunited, the were terrified of the potential for revenge stemming from the horrible wrong they committed against Joseph.
Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? 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.” (Genesis 50:18-20 – NASB)
Similar to the jealousy of Joseph’s brothers, the commissioners and satraps in the Medo-Persian empire were jealous of Daniel because the hand of God was upon him and he prospered. Because of Daniel’s integrity and faithfulness, his enemies could not find away to trip him up.
Then these men said, “We will not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God.”(Genesis 50:18-20 – NASB)
So that is exactly the path Daniel’s enemies traveled. They found a way to get Daniel to violate the law of King Darius because it was in conflict with the law of God. Daniel ended up being thrown into a lions’ den with the full expectation that he would be devoured by the beasts. But when he survived the night with the lions, those who maliciously accused him were themselves thrown into the lions’ den and were dead before they hit the bottom.
Then Darius the king wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language who were living in all the land: “May your peace abound!
I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel;
For He is the living God and enduring forever,
And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed,
And His dominion will be forever.
He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders
In heaven and on earth,
Who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” (Daniel 6:25-27 – NASB)
3) Esther, Mordecai, and the Jewish people
Haman obtained permission from King Ahasuerus to wipe out the Jews because he was angry that Mordecai would not bow to him. God intervened and Haman’s plans to murder Mordecai backfired. Haman ended up leading Mordecai on horseback in a parade of honor in the king’s name. Mordecai was elevated to prime minister, and Haman was hanged upon the gallows he intended to use for Mordecai.
Then Harbonah, one of the eunuchs who were before the king said, “Behold indeed, the gallows standing at Haman’s house fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai who spoke good on behalf of the king!” And the king said, “Hang him on it.” So they hanged Haman on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai, and the king’s anger subsided. (Esther 7:9-10 – NASB)
It does not get much darker than the brutal beating and ultimate crucifixion of Jesus, yet we all know that this crucifixion and subsequent resurrection resulted in a bounty of grace for us.
“Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed”
for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. (Acts 4:25-28 – ESV)
Henry Morris once said: “Let men be ever so bitter against God and hateful to His people. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, and the more His enemies rage, the more will God be glorified.” Evil plans of men will always, ultimately be thwarted by the plans of God.
Many years ago, a dear friend, Paul, was dying of cancer. Just weeks before his passing I asked how he was doing. I have never forgotten his response, and it has become a significant element in my worldview. He said, “God is still on his throne, and all is right with my world.”
Victoriously in Christ!
Over to you: What other Biblical examples do you see that show God bringing good out of evil?