You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. Genesis 50:20 NLT
Some loved it; others hated it.
When I attended school, dry-erase boards and smart boards were a thing of the future. Boards were black and written on with chalk, which made a mess—on the teacher, the students, and the board.
Chalk erasers spread the chalk dust, but managed to hold some of it. Once full, they became virtually useless, leaving streaks of dust on the chalkboard and filling the chalk tray with dust. Clapping the erasers was the only way to correct the dust problem.
Teachers reserved clapping as a reward or as a punishment. Kids who misbehaved found themselves outside clapping erasers on a concrete surface. They also found themselves covered in dust if the wind was blowing the wrong way.
Good students—or perhaps teachers’ pets—saw what was punishment for some as a privilege and enjoyed helping the teacher by clapping erasers. A matter of perspective.
Suffering can look the same. Joseph’s brothers thought they were punishing their brother by ridiculing him, by selling him as a slave to a band of wanderers, and by telling their father he had been killed by a wild animal. Years later—after several stints in prison and a miserable existence as a slave—Joseph viewed his misfortunes as having a purpose.
Suffering takes many forms. I can suffer financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Having a clean credit record destroyed through no fault of one’s own carries a heavyweight. So does having a business partner steal from you. Having others bully you for reasons that make no logical sense isn’t fun either. And being thrown under the bus as Joseph was taxes the emotions.
Sin brings suffering: sin in the world, sin in others, and sin in me. Not only do people walk around with sin natures, but sin also infects creation, making things work in ways God never intended. Natural disasters come to mind.
Sin in others brings out acts of darkness. Jesus said darkness hates the light. When believers shine God’s light into a sinful darkness, we can expect resistance.
But my biggest enemy is me. Even my redeemed nature suffers from falling into temptation occasionally. What appears as a minor sin can have devastating consequences.
Regardless of where the suffering originates, God can redeem it and use it for His and my good. Like Joseph, we can say, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.”
Don’t waste your suffering. Let God redeem it.
Prayer: Father, show us how to redeem the suffering You bring or allow into our lives.
Tweetable: Are you wasting your suffering?
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