Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” (Genesis 50:19–20, NIV 1984).
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28, NIV 1984).
As it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9, NIV 1984).
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8–9, NIV 1984).
My Musings – So, who’s on the throne of our life? Have we been putting ourselves “in the place of God?” Questioning His motives, His purpose, or His goodness when difficulties come into our life? There will be bad seasons in our life. This is, after all, a fallen world. “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NIV 1984). Not maybe. They will come. But that is not the only certainty in this verse. We can “take heart,” because Jesus overcame the world. When trouble comes, it may seem like it is “intended to harm [us]”, but God “[intends] it for good.“
Where does trouble come from?
- From the Lion of the Tribe of Judah – We might question (once again putting ourselves “in the place of God”) why God would send difficulties our way. The easy answer to that is “shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10, NIV 1984). After all He owes us nothing, we are the ones indebted to Him. But there is more to it than that. Not only should we accept them, we should accept them joyfully. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2–4, NIV 1984). This might sound a bit perverse at first sight, but we are not expected to be joyful about the “trouble” itself, but rather what “the testing of [our] faith develops” in our lives. We might think there is an easier way, but His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are higher than our ways.
- From the Prowling, Roaring Lion – We might also question why God would permit difficulties to come our way from the evil one. But we must remember that we (through Adam) abdicated dominion to Satan in the garden. Yet even in these situations, when Satan clearly “[intends] to harm [us]“, God will work it “for the good.” While “[our] enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8, NIV 1984), we should “not lose heart. Though outwardly we are [being devoured], yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16–18, NIV 1984). Let that sink in. Satan intends harm, but God sees to it that it achieves “for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
My Advice – When God sends troubles our way, “take heart.” When God allows Satan to cause us trouble, do “not lose heart.” Either way, God clearly loves us. Our minds cannot possibly conceive “what God has prepared for those who love him.” So we should love Him back (“He first loved us“) and not question His love for us. We should be diligent in carrying out the purpose we “have been called to.“
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:7–11, NIV 1984).