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Evil for Good

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them (Genesis 50:19–21).

What is your reaction when evil is done to you or you’re struggling through hardships, especially when it seems undeserved?

When I came to Ethiopia, I didn’t think doing ministry here was going to be easy, but I thought I had a pretty good grasp on what I was getting into. I had worked in the MTW office, been trained as a counselor and missionary, had traveled extensively, etc, etc. I also hoped that my choice to do full-time missions, coupled with prior experiences, would somehow keep me immune from having serious problems on the field. Like having cross-cultural conflict with a beloved friend or feeling completely lost in how to start a counseling ministry in another culture. It wasn’t until I arrived, however, that I realized I’m definitely not an expert; in fact, at times I could barely even do “life.” It didn’t take long to realize that I shouldn’t put my hope in training or preparedness.

In Ethiopia, I’ve been counseling groups of kids who have had unspeakable evils done to them, through no fault of their own. During one of our times together, I shared this passage about Joseph with them. Joseph is such a relatable character for those who have experienced suffering. He was almost killed and left for dead by his brothers. He was wrongly accused and then imprisoned for many years. But God redeemed his story by not only orchestrating events to allow Joseph’s family to come back into his life, but also by opening Joseph’s heart to love and forgive those who had wronged him.

Joseph’s story reminds us of the kind of God we serve! He can make the impossible possible—even changing hardened hearts and broken lives, to redeem and make right what has been lost. God can use me as the instrument of His ministry. My efforts are not in vain, even if it sometimes feels like they are. More important, God is redeeming my story to change me into a more loving, humble, patient, and merciful person.

What hope and comfort do we have, then? That even in our sorrow and pain, God is making a way for goodness, hope, and peace to come. We do not have to fear but can trust in our God—the God who takes evil and uses it for good.

This was originally published in The Journey devotional. Jessica Ringsmuth serves with MTW and Ethiopia ACT.

Jessica Ringsmuth, Addis Ababa Ethiopia Reflection Feb 15, 2018
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