What Was Intended for Evil

Easter is just around the corner. When we lived in Venezuela, this whole week was celebrated–kids off school, church retreats, even some businesses closed.  I miss that opportunity for intentional focus on the gospel.  And I don’t want to miss it in my own personal reflections. In the interest of inviting you to ponder the beauty of Holy Week, I want to share  a few thoughts from my own study and meditation.

One of the paradoxical themes of Scripture is the use of evil for a good outcome.

  • Joseph stands out  as one who suffered unjustly, bore reproach and grief, but was ultimately exalted to a place where he saw God use everything for good–not only in his life, but also in the lives of his entire family and indeed  the whole nation of Egypt. He told his brothers, “You intended evil, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:15-20).
  • The Jewish slave girl of  Naaman the Syrian Army commander, suffered the trauma of kidnap and slavery. In a raid by the Syrian nation, she was taken from her home and family in Israel and placed in a situation of forced servitude. But  her heart trusted in Israel’s God, and because of that her suffering led to Naaman’s healing from leprosy and turning to the Lord as the one true God. (2 Kings 5)
  • The man born blind, of whom the disciples asked, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, to cause him to be born blind?” suffered into adulthood with the infirmity of blindness. And Jesus clearly said it was not a result of sin at all. The blindness, according to Jesus, was intended so that God’s work in this man would be obvious! This man was, through his suffering, going to be a display of God’s great work! (John 9)

But these stories are only a shadow of the truest and best story of evil turned to good.  Jesus is the ultimate picture of God taking evil and working it for good. What blessed irony that at the cross Satan thought he’d played the final victory card, and instead God had orchestrated the entire event to bring many sons to glory. What Satan intended to be the undoing of God’s precious work in people, the defeat of God’s glory, the demise of God’s creation, actually proved to be the pinnacle of God’s mighty work to redeem, glorify and recreate. Scripture is clear, when Jesus sees all that is accomplished through his suffering, He is satisfied! (Isaiah 53) He knows it was worth it. The suffering of the cross–he despised–but the joy of sharing his Father’s glory he embraced. (Hebrews 12:2)  Jesus humbled himself to the point of death, knowing that what Satan expected to be his demise, God would use to highly exalt him,  that one day every knee would bow and every tongue confess His Lordship. (Phil. 2:5-8). His suffering, real, awful, horrific, traumatic, and completely unfair, has worked a beauty and goodness, a joy and hopefulness, an expectation of future glory into our lives, that could not otherwise be there. God’s good plan has thwarted the evil of Satan. And we get to be a part of that!

If I live like Jesus’s good gift supersedes the evils of Satan and this world then I will know the joy of anticipation even through the dark days of suffering. Kind of puts some sense into  Paul’s words, about our “light and momentary suffering.” Because after the cross comes the resurrection…The suffering of the cross lasted for hours, the joy of resurrection for eternity! Ahh… “The eternal weight of glory.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

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