Genesis 45:4-7 - So Joseph said to His brothers, "Come near to me, please." And they came near. And he said, "I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors."
It's a question that every Christian faces if we live long enough—"Why did this terrible thing happen to me?" Theologians call this the problem of evil. How can a good, loving, all-powerful God let horrible things happen?
I'm going to be honest and say right now that there is no truly satisfactory answer to that question this side of heaven. We go on as Christians, not because we understand God, but because we see His true heart in Jesus our Savior. In spite of evil, we know God is good—because we see Jesus. We know He loves us—because Jesus died and rose for us. We continue to walk, even through darkness, because of Jesus. There is no other answer.
But there is another question. And that question might be phrased this way: "What can God do with this evil? What new, good thing can God create using this terrible thing?"
That is the question Joseph was dealing with. Many years before, his jealous brothers had sold him as a slave in far-away Egypt. There Joseph learned what it meant to suffer. He worked hard and was treated badly. He was even falsely accused and thrown into prison. He had every reason (humanly speaking) to stop trusting God. Who could blame him?
Joseph must have been tempted to lose faith. And yet, in our passage today, he is victorious. At last, he sees one very good thing that God has brought out of all his suffering. Joseph's family will live through the famine—they will do more than that, they will prosper! Because long ago, Joseph was sold as a slave into Egypt, today he is in a position to offer them a home with all the food they could ever need.
This doesn't make what Joseph's brothers did to him any less evil. Kidnapping is kidnapping; selling your brother as a slave will never be on the list of good, moral examples to imitate. And yet God used that great evil to bring about salvation for nearly a hundred people. From those people eventually came the whole nation of Israel—and from Israel, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
God can bring good out of our own evils as well. We may not see how He can do this right now; we may never see it in this world. And that is hard. But in the end, it's okay—because we know God's true heart toward us as we see it in the life, death, and resurrection of our dear Lord Jesus Christ. God is for us. He loves us. And He will redeem all our evils.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, please hold on to me when I suffer evil, and keep my trust in Jesus my Savior. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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