This week, I made it through only one additional verse of Genesis. That's right: not one additional chapter, but one additional verse. Why? Because the content of this particular verse, God turning bad into good, is the theme of my life and as such deserves at least a week's contemplation and probably much, much more time. Here in Genesis, I find this theme in another life, one that is centuries old: Joseph of the many-colored coat. Joseph, in continuing the conversation with his brothers who have come to Egypt to buy grain during a great famine, states: "And as for you, ye meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive."
Reading: Genesis 50:20
Meditation: After telling his brothers that he has forgiven them, Joseph explains to them that while some very terrible things seem to have happened to him, these events ultimately led to good and without the knowledge, experience, and foundation initially created by them, the good (saving his brothers and the rest of the Middle Eastern world of the time) could not have happened.
On a personal note, as an atheist I never questioned why all the difficult things in my life happened to me, especially three children and two grandchildren with multiple birth defects; I just assumed that it was a matter of an imperfect nature. After coming to faith, however, I asked God why. I did not blame God for anything. I just wanted to know why. I was led to read Job. It took five readings to understand that God does not cause bad things to happen, but free will, freely evolving nature, and Evil itself create those negative things. Our love for God and God's love for us is independent of whether our lives are filled with good or bad. However, God will take the bad that happens to one person and make it good for many people. (For example, because I had the experience of raising an American spina bifida child, along with the ability to speak Russian, I was able to take in a child artist from Siberia, dying from complications of spina bifida, and, with the help of others, find proper treatment to save his life -- as for the money, God led me to a multibillionaire to pay the bill. My life has indeed been filled with miracles, but many of these came from God fixing difficult situations, and some of these could not have happened had not there been a string of bad building upon bad, uh, make that, mathemagenic experience building upon mathemagenic experience.)
The other thing I would point out about the times that God has jumped in to turn bad into good is that the individuals, while they may have been frightened or angry, were never in any danger. God was there with them and had plan for pulling them out of their messes (like God does so often with Mahlou messes). God told Satan that he was not allowed to kill Job. So, Job's life was not in danger; Job just did not know that. There was an angel in the fire with Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego (the good that came from this bad was great testimony to King Nebuchadnezzar and the nation of Babylon) and in the lion's den with Daniel (the good that came from this bad was religious freedom as a result of the testimony to King Darius).
I think we do not always see the good that comes from the bad because we sometimes want it to happen too quickly. (Joseph had to wait many years.) Sometimes our view is too restricted; we see only what is happening immediately to us and not to a larger swath of the population. Sometimes we want it to happen our way only, don't see that God often has unique and much better solutions than we can imagine, and fail to recognize answers to prayers that differ from our requests. And sometimes we don't realize that God uses people as His hands on earth to create the good -- and perhaps we are actually part of His work (or could be if we were to be willing and open).
And that is far as I can go with you on this Monday morning. I must retire to prayer to ask God for greater willingness and readiness to be part of His plan for turning bad to good for the people around me, to express my regret for any and all opportunities to do this that I have missed, to give thanks for all the times he has created good from bad in my life, and to offer praise for caring enough and being great enough to create miracles in my life and the lives of my friends and acquaintances.
After that, I will spend some time in contemplation with this wonderful God who has done so many wondrous things for me and mine.
I will now leave you to your prayer and contemplation.
If you pick this up as a weekly devotional activity, please share with me and others your own thoughts about the message of Genesis 50:20 or any other scripture that you choose for meditation. Feel free to export the image of the mission church; maybe some time in the near future my Internet-inept self will be able to figure out how to use the Mr. Linky buttons. In the interim, perhaps you are welcome to use the image and share the meme of Monday Morning Meditation for starting out the work week closer to God.
Have a good day and a blessed week, filled with all good things -- and let any bad be turned to good for your sake and the sake of all around you!