Can God Bring Good Out Of Evil?
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
In Genesis, there is a story about Jacob and his twelve sons. His favourite son was Joseph, because he was born to Rachel, his favourite wife. When Jacob gave Joseph a coloured robe and made him the star son, the other brothers were jealous of him, and said, “We should kill him (cf. Gen. 37:18).” Then Judah said, “It would not make any sense, killing him. Let’s sell him into slavery (cf. Gen.37:26).”
So. Judah sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt. Judah is in the bloodline of Jesus the Messiah who came from the tribe of Judah. This is another example that the Bible is not made up. The writer would not put a shady guy like Judah in the bloodline of Jesus if the writer wanted to glamorise the bloodline of Jesus.
Joseph is treated badly in Egypt. He is accused of a crime he did not commit, and he does time in prison. He eventually rises and the Pharaoh appoints him the second-in-command (cf. Gen. 41:41) because he was the only one who could tell the Pharaoh what he dreamed on two separate ocassions, and give the interpretation for both dreams. He was put in charge of the grain in preparation for famine. The famine comes after seven years of great abundance, just as the Pharoah had dreamed, and there is also famine in Israel. Eventually, all his brothers come to Egypt including his father, Jacob. Joseph recognises them and forgives his brothers. He said to them:
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." - Genesis 50:20
This is why we can trust God when inexplicable evil comes into our lives.
The events that happened to Joseph is called the ripple effect. When we stay faithful to God (which means trusting and loving Him no matter what happens), it creates a ripple effect that doesn't just affect the present but also future generations. For instance, Joseph's trust in God saved many lives, led to the nation of Israel being formed and eventually to Moses taking God's people to the promised land. Another example is Ruth, who didn't know that her obedience would eventually result in Jesus being born into her family. She was King David's great-grandmother and part of Jesus' family tree. Even our salvation today is possible because of the ripple effect created by the faithfulness of others.
Before the Communists took control of China on October 1, 1949, there were about 7,000 foreign missionaries in the country. They were running schools, hospitals, seminaries, and publishing houses. They were also helping people become Christians. At that time, China had over half a billion people.
But when Chairman Mao Zedong and the Communist Party took over, they made all the foreign missionaries leave. These missionaries had spent 400 years in China, and they had converted a million people to Protestant Christianity and several million to Catholicism. This was a small number compared to China's a half billion population.
The mission organisations were worried about who would now teach, print Christian books, and take care of the sick. For many years, no one knew how the Christian church in China was doing, especially because they were being persecuted.
It wasn't until 1979, 40 years later, that China started opening up to the outside world. Some of those same missionaries returned to China and were surprised to see that the Christian church had grown a lot. Some thought there were more than 80 million Christians in China, and others believed it could be over 100 million when including the secret house churches that the government didn't allow.
Despite facing persecution, being suppressed, and having many restrictions, Christianity not only survived in China but also grew and became strong in the People's Republic of China. The work of the early missionaries in China had a ripple effect on Christian growth in China.
God can bring good out of evil.
Acts of faith have ripple effects in our lives and those around us. We may see the effects or we might not but they are there.
Ephesians 3:20 says
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.
God is “able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine.” And He does this “by His power that is in us.” God plans beyond what we could even dream to imagine or ask. And His power lives in us! That’s reason enough to live by faith, trusting Jesus to guide us each step of the way. Through Him, our faithfulness will be ripple across time.
Let us pray.
God, help me to be open to you in new ways. Help me to be able to influence those near me and support the positive influence of those around the world.
In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.