Don’t be afraid. I will provide…
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” (Genesis 50:20-21)
What’s going on right now is awful, let’s not pretend otherwise. This is not a good situation, but I believe that good can and will come out of it. Why? Because God is an expert in bringing good out of evil. He turns harmful circumstances into opportunities for good.
This was the insight that Joseph brought to his brothers with the benefit of hindsight, looking back on a life that had taken many seemingly wrong turns, but which had ultimately brought about great good. Joseph was abused, sold, maligned and wrongly imprisoned, but he ended up in the seat of power and God used him to save an entire nation from starvation in a time of famine.
God didn’t prevent those bad things happening to Joseph. Instead, He used them to make him stronger, and to prepare him for the task ahead of him. We see the same played out for other characters in the Bible: Moses, Job, David, Jesus, Paul, etc. Likewise, God isn’t going to spare us from bad things – being a Christian isn’t a ticket to an easy ride through life and it isn’t a forcefield against trouble. But following Jesus does give us strength to get through hardship, and to play our part in a greater good.
When looking at this stuff, it’s easy to get the wrong idea about God. Often people jump to two wrong conclusions when they see bad things happening. Either they think God caused it, and therefore can’t be good, or they think God was powerless to prevent it, and therefore can’t be relied upon. Neither is true, and neither assumption is going to help anyone right now.
The truth is that God allows bad things to happen, but brings good out of them. In so doing He upholds our free will but still achieves His own purposes. Very often bad things happen as a result of our own bad decisions, or the bad decisions of others. We shouldn’t blame God for things that He didn’t do, but we should recognise that in allowing them He is using them as part of a bigger plan.
God did not cause the Coronavirus pandemic, but I believe He will work through it to bring about great good. I hope and believe we’ll see lives and attitudes changed for the better, society being invested in not neglected, the environment refreshed and restored, relationships enhanced and the good news of Jesus bringing salvation to more lives.
Some of this stuff we can already see happening, some of it is still only in the faith realm. Most of what God is doing or planning we can’t conceive of, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. While we wait and endure this pain, let’s pray in faith and thank Him in advance for all the good He’s going to do. While we do so, let’s listen to what Joseph told his brothers: don’t be afraid. And what Joseph said to them next, God is also saying to us right now: I will provide for you and your children.
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