“You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people.” (Genesis 50:20)
That’s the famous conclusion of Joseph’s story in Genesis. He said it to his brothers when they came down to Egypt and he revealed himself to them.
Here’s how we often interpret it, though: “God takes lemons and makes lemonade.” Or God can turn bad things into good things. Here’s what we miss in those interpretations: God uses evil – actual evil! – to produce something good.
Joseph’s life wasn’t lemons…it was much worse! He was almost killed, sold into slavery, falsely accused and imprisoned – all because of the actions of his brothers.
So often, conflict brings suffering and the Bible writers affirm with one voice that we can expect it in life: “Many adversities come to the one who is righteous, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” (Psalm 34:19) “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”” (John 16:33) “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials,” (James 1:2)
Why in the world can we count it all joy? Because every problem or conflict leads to a decision. The tough times force a choice – will we become a better person or will we become a worse person because of this challenge? Character either matures or crumbles depending on our response to God while the pressure is on. Conflict reveals our character…and shows us where we need to grow.
I would guess that if you would spend some time thinking back over your life, you’d discover that the greatest lessons you’ve learned didn’t come during comfortable periods, but in difficult times.
Diamonds are formed over many years and intense heat and pressure. Character is similar. So that means that if we view it correctly, conflict doesn’t always have to be destructive.
Join us this Sunday as we learn to grow through conflict while “Waging Peace.”