Monday, 18 August 2014
But God Intended It For Good
Does anybody learn much at all except through suffering? Gratitude seems to grow depth in people, although often the transformation is not through the kind of gratitude that fears the worst, but the kind of gratitude that grows in a person who has suffered. (Even Jesus learned through suffering. See Heb 5:8.) I wish it were otherwise, and this is not an explanation or justification for evil and suffering, but an observation of real people, myself included. The theological addition is as Joseph says, God intends the evil for good. God's response to evil is not a moralistic separation from evil or a gnostic ignoring of it. God journeys into the story of human suffering, failure and evil. Hence the call of Abraham and Sarah, God's blessing of Jacob, Joseph's travails, Moses and his exile ... and Jesus and his cross and resurrection. God can use sin to bring salvation.
And if you are looking for a kids' talk on the Joseph cycle, try something along these lines.
When God uses us to bring about good, do you think God uses the good things we do or the bad things we do? (If the answer is 'The good things" that will help the surprise in the sermon.)
So things like ... being kind to someone, sticking up for some kid being left out at school?
Not lying ... not being mean ... ("I find it hard to bring good out of bad stuff like this ... I usually have to start off fresh.") ... Definitely not selling your brother or sister into slavery and watching them dragged off to a foreign country... definitely not being part of a group that nails someone to a cross.
Definitely not. But God isn't restricted like that. God gets involved in our failures and can even bring good out of bad. Like Joseph ... like Jesus ...