On the morning of September 11, 2001, people the world over saw the face of evil in the kamikaze airplane crashing into the World Trade Center Twin Towers. In spite of all the attempts of psychologists to rationalize away sin and evil, it’s difficult to deny its effects in light of this mass murder.
We live in a fallen world very far from the paradise God created for us. Bad things happen to us that we simply can’t explain apart from evil. Given our tendency toward self-reliance, the bad things we encounter can drive us “to depend on God,” “to learn something” and “to come closer to Him,” say Katy, 7, Kelly, 6, and Kelsey, 7.
“God wants us to ask him for help,” says Katherine, 7.
Furthermore, we might discover that God regularly turns the world and intentions of evil people upside down. After being sold into slavery by his envious brothers (Genesis 37) and falsely accused (Genesis 39), Joseph was thrown into an Egyptian jail and forgotten.
Joseph could have held a perpetual pity party and focused only on all the bad things that happened to him. Instead, he discovered what Kendall, 11, learned: “I’ve found when you lose something or someone special, the Lord blesses you with something even better.”
That something, in Joseph’s case, was beyond his imagination. Joseph used his God-empowered ability to interpret Pharaoh’s dream, which foretold a coming famine. He recommended a plan for storing grain that saved many lives. In one day, Joseph went from jailbird to prime minister of Egypt.
When his cruel brothers showed up to buy food because of the famine, he could have said: “Payback time! Starve for all I care!” Instead, Joseph forgave them and treated them with kindness and generosity.
Speaking to his brothers about their selling him into slavery, Joseph said, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20). Joseph saw that God’s ingenious career path promoted him to a position to save many lives from a seven-year famine.
Just as Joseph accepted the bad things God allowed in his life, Jesus faced what looked like the greatest disaster of all time – crucifixion on a cross. The cross has been turned into a beautiful symbol, but in Jesus’ day, it was equivalent to the electric chair – the worst punishment for the worst criminals.
To die on a cross between two criminals appeared to be total defeat and humiliation. Yet, God took this shameful death and turned it into victory over death. In this irony, resurrection life now flows from what had appeared to be the most tragic death ever recorded.
“We deserved to be punished for our sins,” says Launa, 8, “but remember that God suffered worse.”
“All things work together for good,” says Carly, 11, quoting part of Romans 8:28. Carly, don’t forget the qualifying part of this promise, “to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Think about this: God can take what people intend for evil and work it out for his purpose in a way that the perpetrators could never imagine. The ultimate terrorist, Satan himself, never imagined that Jesus’ death on the cross would pay for the sins of the world. Every time someone accepts God’s gift of eternal life, Satan gnashes his teeth.
Memorize this truth: Genesis 50:20 quoted above. Ask this question: Can you trust God to work out some bad thing in your life for his purpose?
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Copyright 2023 Carey Kinsolving