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Friday, July 15, 2011

Everything Happens 9

Today I'm reading John 16:31-32
“Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Trouble. Jesus says we're all going to have it. And because we are his followers we may have MORE of it. So, things will not always work out the way we think they should. The 'Everything Happens for a Reason' mentality has to be flipped over. Here's the expression I think we should promote: God can use everything that happens.

He doesn't directly cause every event. Not every little thing is pre-designed a puzzle piece in his grand plan laid out for your life eons ago. But, he is a redeemer. He takes broken things and refashions them; reconditions them. He turns things that are evil into things that he can use, but he doesn't cause or intend the evil. So the question should always be, "How can this situation be redeemed? How can it be turned to give glory to God?"

Probably the best example of this is the Old Testament story of Joseph. Talk about sibling rivalry. His older brothers threw him down a well. When he didn't die they sold him into slavery with the local camel jockeys, who re-sold him to Pharaoh. He rotted in jail, rose through the ranks, had false charges of sexual misconduct leveled against him - back to jail, but eventually rose to power again. Which is how he re-encountered his scheming brothers when they came to Egypt in desperation because of a famine in the land. Amazingly Joseph forgives them and welcomes them into Egypt under his protection. He uses his suffering and success to protect his family - and he sees this as part of God's plan. God took the evil that his brothers did, coupled with the suffering Joseph endured, and he made something good out of it. He preserved the people of God. Could God have done it another way? Of course. But we won't ever know how he would have protected the people of God if Joseph's brothers hadn't been such jerks.

What's interesting is the slight variation in translation of Joseph's famous words about God's activity behind the scenes in these events. Read below, Genesis 50:19-21

New International Version (NIV): 19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to the them.

Contemporary English Version (CEV): 19But Joseph told them, "Don't be afraid! I have no right to change what God has decided. 20You tried to harm me, but God made it turn out for the best, so that he could save all these people, as he is now doing. 21Don't be afraid! I will take care of you and your children." After Joseph said this, his brothers felt much better.

The Message: 19-21 Joseph replied, "Don't be afraid. Do I act for God? Don't you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people. Easy now, you have nothing to fear; I'll take care of you and your children." He reassured them, speaking with them heart-to-heart.

Which translation resonates with you the most? Why? What does this say to you about the circumstances surrounding your life and God's work behind the scenes?

Let me know what you think.


You can listen to Ray LaMontagne's 'Trouble' while you contemplate!


  1. I'm always amazed at how your blog seems to hit me over the head with whatever it is I'm going through. How God's words are specifically for me that morning. I went back to work on Friday after 4 months of maternity leave with my second son. The same week we had to move out of our house as we start to build an addition. We moved in with my Dad for 3 months. My mom & sister are alternating watching the baby for the next 6 weeks. Reading " I'll take care of you and your children" is what I needed to hear this morning. I was so frustrated and confused with God's timing with the house. Why every major transition seemed to be hitting at once for the maximum amount of stress. But I can see that "God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done". I like the NIV and The Message versions. My Dad has dinner ready every night. My commute is only 15 minutes for the next 3 months. I have an extra Grandparent on hand at all times to help with the kids. God was at work setting up all these circumstances so that going back to work with 2 kids didn't knock me over. Shame on me for questioning his timing. It's so hard to see at the time, but it's always perfect.

  2. Thanks Allyson. Always appreciate seeing how God uses scripture to meet us where we are.