2011-04-14 - The End of Our Understanding
Gen 50:20 "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. (NASB)
Do bad things happen to faithful Christians?
There are some who would say no. The thought is that if you have been faithful nothing ill should touch your life. If there is some kind of calamity that besets your life it must be that there is some kind of sin in your life. It is true that God promises to chasten those He loves (Heb 12:5-7).
Look at the life of Joseph.
Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers because they were jealous. Some would say they had cause to be disgruntled. Their father made no secret of the fact that Joseph was his favorite of his sons. While a slave in Egypt the Lord blessed Joseph who became one of Potiphar's personal servants and was then framed by Potiphar's wife. Joseph was sent to prison where the Lord again blessed the work of Joseph and he was placed in charge of all the prisoners. He became known for interpreting dreams and was called to interpret one of Pharaoh's dreams. God answered Pharaoh's questions about this particular dream through Joseph and Joseph was appointed over all of Egypt save Pharaoh himself. Pharaoh also gave Joseph a wife that elevated Joseph into the ruling class of Egypt.
In all of this Joseph's work was blessed as he submitted to God. Yet He was sold into slavery by his own brothers. He was wrongly accused of a sexual assault and jailed for more than two years. Most of us would call these bad things.
Look at the life of Job.
First Job is introduced as blameless and upright. An interesting point is that the enemy had to ask for permission and have it granted by God for Job's life to be touched. But it was touched so that in a very short period of time almost everything that Job owned or love was taken from him. His children were killed. It is one of the most terrible events in the life of a parent to lose a child. That loss is probably inexplicable in words. The loss of his livestock and fields and wealth would have meant little next to his children, but they were all swept away. At the end of chapter one we see Job tear his robes and shave his head, and worship God. What a statement! We are told that Job did not sin and never blamed God.
Job's health was lost next to the point of sitting in ashes covered with boils and scraping those boils with a shard of pottery. Job's wife comes and tell him to curse God and die! His friends explained that there must be some sin in his life, and that God is punishing Job. One of his friends asks, "Does God pervert Justice?" (Job 8:3) In the middle of this raging debate Job despairs deeply. Most of us would also consider these things bad.
In the End
In the end Joseph has such favor with Pharaoh that he is in a position to save his family and the Hebrew people from starvation. They are given the choicest region of the land called Goshen. Joseph is reunited with his family including his father before he dies. Job is restored twice everything he had prior to his life being afflicted. It can not be said that every one who is righteous and falls into troubled times is restored.
Those bad things were turned around as blessings. They continue to bless us today as we are taught. Clearly these two men trusted God through all their troubles - imprisonment and the loss of health. But all the while the Lord was moving the pieces on the chessboard. He was in complete control of the events the whole time. Joseph and Job both surely reached the end of their understanding of what was happening in their lives. But they trusted when they could not see the way forward.
Do bad things happen to faithful believers? In our feeble human vision it seems we would have to say yes. If we remain faithful we have no idea what may come next, even if it is only the satisfaction of knowing that we have lived for God. The ripples that have spread from the lives of these two men have touched the lives of millions as an encouragement. You have no way of knowing whose life will be impacted by yours for good or for ill. Remain faithful. Selah.
Grace & Peace,