From cover to cover, the Bible teaches that nothing happens apart from the will of God. Nothing. Nada. That doesn’t mean God is necessarily causing the thing that is happening to you. He may be, but it’s also likely that someone else is using his or her free will to do something that impacts you and God is allowing this to happen for a greater good. I agree with you if you say this is not totally comforting news.
In theology, this is called the doctrine of meticulous providence or the “greater good” doctrine. This means God ordains (rules over) everything that happens. It further states God will allow no evil except that which prevents a greater evil or brings about a greater good. Now that’s a mighty tough pill to swallow, isn’t it, when the things that are happening to us or to those we love are painful or unfair in our sight? It might be more palatable for us in our suffering due to these circumstances if God would provide us a peek into what He sees in the BIG picture . . . . in the scope of eternal good and what most benefits His kingdom. But He usually doesn’t.
When what we deem as the bad or unfortunate or even evil things happening to us, it’s pretty natural to wonder “why me” and why is God allowing this to happen? These times are weighty tests to the trust we have in a “good” God who reigns supreme and who ultimately wants and does what’s best for us within His grand, kingdom scheme. This is the beautiful truth that Joseph understood. His response to the cruelty of his brothers in Gen. 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, to accomplish what is being done, the saving of many people,” is one example of horrible circumstances which Joseph met with faith in God’s sovereign purpose.
You have to admire Joseph for how he dealt with misfortune. His stories are in the Bible for a reason. We face matters that are as calamitous and discouraging to us as Joseph’s were to him and we face them with no more tangible evidence or reason than he had. Certainly not all things are good, but that was not the promise of Rom.8:28 where God reasons with us through our pain, profound uncertainty and perhaps panic with His calming promise “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” He is urging us to adopt peace and trust amidst our trials, even if the revelation of His purpose takes a very long time. Even if we don’t “get it” this side of the curtain.
Maybe you are enduring something right now that makes no sense to you. If not today, certainly on some tomorrow. It feels tortuous. God gives us stories of real men and women like Joseph to show us He is at work. He is always at work. A truth to embrace is that we can endure almost any kind of pain if we believe there is a purpose to it. God says there is purpose. The question to ponder is this: If we reach the place in our faith and understanding where we believe God is always at work, can we also believe He is always at work in us and for us, even if what occurs in our life is now a mystery and God has woven the benefit of what’s happening into a framework of a much larger scale than we can now understand? Think About It.