Life is full of ups and downs, highs and lows, good times and bad times. Our own lives attest to this, as well as the Scriptures. Throughout all of history, mankind has been in constant flux and change. Sometimes we have good days, moments of glory, and seasons of flourishing. And then, without any real warning or apparent reason, we have those bad days, moments of shame and regret, and long seasons of dryness. There doesn't even seem to be a rhyme or reason to it all.
In light of this, some may even question, "How can a good and omnipotent God allow all these bad things to happen to good people?" I would ask in response, "Have you read the whole story? Or did you stop after the bad part? Keep going, because my hunch is, it gets better. Our God is going to turn the ugly into something beautiful. And I want to be there to see it when he does."
Today’s Scripture reminds us of this roller coaster nature of life. How quickly it can flip from wonderful to awful and back to wonderful, and so on again and again. But through all of this, God is working his eternal, unchanging good. Joseph reminds his brothers of this attribute of God in his famous declaration in Genesis 50:20 -"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Joseph's life had gone from good to bad to good so many times we almost lose count. Even at the very end of Genesis, we see the Egyptians honoring Israel with a burial of much pomp and ceremony and glory. Yet, in the very next chapter, or in this case the beginning of Exodus, we see this same Egyptian nation reviling, shaming, and debasing the Israelites. How quickly things changed.
Again, we see the shift from glory to shame and back again when we look at the story of Peter in Matthew 16 and 17. One moment Peter is the rock Christ will build his church on, the next moment Jesus is making his actions akin to the work of the Satan, and then in the next chapter Peter basks in the glory of Jesus during the transfiguration. What a whirlwind week that must have been for Peter.
Can you relate? Do you have weeks, days, or even moments like that? Do you feel bounced back and forth between joy and sadness, hope and despair, fullness and emptiness? Or maybe it's a more general sense that things are going right or not so right? Or maybe you have just had some major tragedy in your life. Something you don't know if you will ever recover from. To you I say, I’m sorry. Jesus is sorry and he weeps with you. But don't stop reading. Don't give up. The story is not over. Take encouragement and hope from today's reading (it's actually a theme throughout all of Scripture). Jesus can take what was meant for harm, what might seem totally bad in our eyes, and use it for good. He can make it into something beautiful. Stay with him. Whatever chapter your life may be in right now, stay with him. Psalm 21: 7 reminds us that a "[man] who trusts in the Lord; through the unfailing love of the Most High, he will not be shaken." Through all the ups and downs of life, and all the different chapters we go through, we can be confident in the author and perfecter of our lives. We know how the story ends, and it's a good one.
- Mary Matthias
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