How to Live the Bible — Turning the Bad Into the Good

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This is the one-hundred-thirtieth lesson in author and pastor Mel Lawrenz’ How to Live the Bible series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here.


God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. Genesis 45:7-8

One of the most discouraging things we experience is when life takes a very bad turn, and we wonder how God could possibly redeem the situation. It could be an untimely death, the loss of a job, the betrayal of a friend. Any experience which seems to violate the essence of what’s good and right.

The silhouette of pyramids against the star-filled night sky to illustrate the wonder of God

On this point, the Bible offers a perspective that only faith can accept: God is able to use misfortune to move our lives in a direction that glorifies him. This is a paradox, but true: bad things may seem to get us off course, but later in life we discover how the altered course became a purposeful course.

What could be more wrong than a group of jealous brothers beating and leaving for dead one of their own? The 11 brothers of Joseph, son of Jacob, were envious of his character and turned against him. On a desert road they beat him, put him in a cistern, then sold him into slavery (Gen. 37:23-28).

In this way, the young Joseph came, as a slave, to the great superpower of the time, Egypt. With his gifts and his character, he rose to prominence—ultimately to be the most powerful person in Egypt next to Pharaoh. Amazing. Years later, in that position of power and wealth, he welcomed his estranged brothers, who came to Egypt seeking food during a great famine.

When they realized the “Lord of Egypt” before them was the brother they had left for dead, they heard Joseph’s amazing interpretation: “It was not you who sent me here, but God.” Why? “To save your lives for a great deliverance” (Gen. 45:7-8).

What is the lesson here? Not that we ought to take bad things and call them good, which leads to moral confusion. Rather, God takes the results of bad things and turns them toward the good. So if your position in life today is the result of a bad turn of events—loss or sin or betrayal—you can know that God is able to take you wherever you are and use you for his good purposes.

PONDER
Who do you know that was able to take bad circumstances and turn them toward something good?
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Mel Lawrenz (@MelLawrenz) trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s teaching pastor. He has a PhD in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel’s many books include Spiritual Leadership Today: Having Deep Influence in Every Walk of Life (Zondervan, 2016). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay.

The post How to Live the Bible — Turning the Bad Into the Good appeared first on Bible Gateway Blog.

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