The Good in the Bad

Bible Reading: Romans 8

Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

You’ve no doubt read the Old Testament account of the amazing life of Joseph.  He faced more than his share of troubles.  It all started for him when his father gave him that multi-colored jacket.  It seemed like a good thing at the time, yet the gift worked to birth some bad sibling rivalry.  Then there was that dream—in which the boy Joseph dreamed that his mother and father and brothers would all bow down to him.  Was that a good thing, or a bad thing?  What we know is it only worked to further exasperate the tension between him and his brothers.  So they decided to kill him.  A very bad thing.  But then some Ishmaelites came along.  It was decided by the brothers that they should instead sell Joseph off into slavery.  A good thing in comparison to death!  He ends up as a slave in Potiphar’s house, and God prospers both him and his master.  A good thing.  But then Potiphar’s wife falsely accuses him and he is sent to prison.  A bad thing.  In prison, he’s a model prisoner and gains favor in the sight of the chief jailer.  A good thing.  The cupbearer and baker for the king of Egypt are sent there too.  They both have dreams, which Joseph successfully interprets.  A good thing. Joseph asks them to remember him, but though the cupbearer gained his release, he forgot.  A bad thing.  But then Pharoah had two dreams.  And the cupbearer finally remembered Joseph.  Joseph was brought from prison.  He interpreted the Pharaoh’s dreams.  A good thing.  He was promoted to prime minister of Egypt.  An excellent thing.  When famine came along, Joseph’s preparations and wisdom preserved the lives of many people, most importantly, God’s chosen people.  Joseph recounted such to his brothers, saying, “And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about the present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:20). 

One might imagine how difficult it must have been for Joseph—at the bottom of that pit; on the journey to Egypt as a slave; in Potiphar’s house; in that prison; forgotten in that prison; isolated from his family and alienated by his brothers.  He must have wondered at many points in that journey–what in the world is God doing!  He didn’t have the advantage of seeing the end point of his journey along the way.  Yet what he did have was faith in God!  He believed in God, and so he endeavored to please God in whatever circumstance he found himself.  God meant it all for good.  And just like that, God is working all things (even what we deem to be bad things) together for good in the lives of those who love Him.

We need to be careful to understand the good spoken of in this verse according to the context.  God’s plan is not so much our present happiness, but our future holiness.  His plan is to bring us to heaven.  He’s at work to transform us from one state of glory to the next until we are fully conformed to His Son (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18).  The process involves a testing of our faith, in which the sinful impurities of our lives are progressively identified and then removed through the inner working of the Spirit.  It is a lifelong process.  It is important for us to keep this process in mind as we confront trials.  Note the phrase “and we know” (Romans 8:28).  You’ll find similar language in other passages which speak of our troubles.  As in Romans 5:3, “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance…”  And James 1:2-3, “Consider all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance…”  God is sovereign.  God is good.  He is loving.  He is all wise.  And He knows what he’s doing when it comes to the affairs of your life.  You can trust Him.  So, do as Joseph did.  No matter what comes your way, keep trusting God, knowing that He can bring good out of bad in the troubles you face!


My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.

– Corrie ten Boom

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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