"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."
Genesis 50:20 (NIV)
This is the verse of the day on the side of my blog for today. I came on planning on posting a different post, which I still will, but reading this verse made me pause. This is said by Joseph to his brothers, who tossed him in a pit for a day or so, and then sold him to slave travers and told their father he'd been killed by wild animals. He goes to Egypt, becomes a trusted advisor of a rich Egyptian, but then the lady of the house tells her husband lies about him because Joseph rejected her advances. So he's thrown in prison and isn't let out until he is found useful in interpreting the Pharoah's dream, which predicts a coming famine. Egypt is able to prepare of the famine, but the rest of the area is unprepared so everyone, including Joseph's family, comes to Egypt for aid. And Joseph forgives his brothers, and says the above to them.
It's an amazing story.
I heard a sermon on this in church once that I heartily disagreed with. The priest was saying people misused this by saying God sent trials into our life and he thought that was wrong. But it's right. I mean, it's not that God does evil things to us. It's that he allows evil to happen to us, instead of stopping it (and He stops tons and tons and tons of evil from befalling us we know nothing about) because He's got a divine plan. God never sends suffering. He just intercepts it and bends it according to His will and to deny He has any hand in it is to deny a) His sovereignty and b) the credit for the good that WILL come to the lives of those who love Him. And in fact, when you pair this with one of my favorite verses, Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Both verses are saying all the evil in our life God turns around and makes good. Isn't that awesome!!!
Also, think seriously on your life for a second. Isn't it the times of trial, pain, challenge, etc that made you grow? This life of ours is just a "puff of wind" in God's time, but in heaven there is no pain. So this is our only chance to grow. So let us welcome the suffering. I'll end on relevant passages.
"Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." Romans 8:16-18
"All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering." 2 Thess 1:5
"So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God"2 Timothy 1:8
"That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day."2 Timothy 1:12
"For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God."1 Peter 2:19 (this one really makes you think if you read it in context)
"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."1 Peter 4:12-13
"Resist him,[the devil] standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."1 Peter 5:9
And finally, the words of our beloved Jesus:
"If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also." John 15: 19-20