God Can Use Suffering for Good

Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.
—Psalm 115:3

Evil and suffering are often matters of perspective in God’s creation. For example, earthquakes and tsunamis are the result of plate tectonics. While plate tectonics occasionally produce natural disasters, they are also essential to regulate our climate, keep the continents from being submerged in water, and enable the biodiversity that allows life to flourish on our planet.

Many times we prematurely judge something that is painful as evil. While we use the terms “suffering” and “evil” interchangeably, they are not the same. Everything that is evil does not always result in suffering (at least in the short term), and everything that produces suffering is not always evil.

Our world is replete with examples of pain as a precursor to good. Pain instructs children not to touch a hot stove. It is through the pain of childbirth that new life enters the world. Pain can alert both the patient and the doctor to the presence of a malignancy that needs to be removed. Therefore, we should not be surprised that God can use temporary suffering for ultimate good.

For example, consider the experience of the Old Testament character Joseph. His brothers sold him into slavery, yet God used the brothers’ betrayal to place Joseph in Egypt, where he became prime minister. When a famine struck, Joseph’s position allowed him to provide food for his family and therefore preserve the nucleus of what would become the nation of Israel—the nation from which the Savior of the world would be born.

And the ultimate example of God’s ability to use suffering and evil to accomplish good is the death of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ represents the only truly innocent person who has ever suffered. The rest of us human beings are all guilty of something. Yet God was able to use the evil acts of the Jewish and Roman leaders to accomplish His ultimate purpose of rescuing all creation from the vice grip of sin.

It is beyond my pay grade to understand how a holy God could use horrendous evil to accomplish His perfect plan. But one truth is obvious: God is always at work accomplishing His ultimate plan. God uses pain—even pain that is inflicted by evil people with evil motives—for good in our lives.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “How Can I Know God Is Good?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

 

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