Redeeming Pain into Good

Genesis 50:20

 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

This verse from Genesis is one of my favorite in all of the Bible. The context was in the story of Joseph, who had been sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, and later rose into prominence in Egypt, his adopted country. The brothers, upon encountering Joseph, whom they presumed to be dead, were fearful that Joseph would naturally extract revenge upon them for their awful deeds. Instead of having them executed, Joseph uttered this marvelous truth “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

This grace-filled response is a timeless truth that we can use every day to better deal with crises in our lives. Pain, evil, suffering, can be redeemed into something good if we allow that to be considered as an option. Joseph, in the Genesis story, would not have been in the position in Egypt to save a starving world if his brothers had not done their evil acts to him. This did not condone their evil, but Joseph chose to turn that evil into good for so many people, including the perpetrators of his pain. If we look at things in a different perspective, we can find ways to redeem pain and suffering into something better than we had before. In fact, had the crisis not occurred, we would not have the opportunities that it actually presented to us.

I read once that the Chinese characters which form the word “crisis” are of two parts- one indicating danger, and the other opportunity. So, a crisis is an experience which presents both danger and opportunity.

The crisis that we now face, the Covid-19 pandemic, is in fact a huge danger, but it is also an incredible opportunity for producing good- if we can see it in that light. Actually, every day we see acts of grace and kindness- selfless acts- that are in response to this crisis. I have read that there will be huge societal changes as a result of how we have changed our behaviors during this crisis. I believe that. I also believe that we need to find the benefits of those changes- new ways of learning, providing health care with new tools, etc. We also learn that we so miss physical touch and direct human interactions, and we will, hopefully, value people and relationships even more in the future.

So, let us be instruments of redemption- turning this pain and suffering into good things for our future.

Prayer: Father, we recognize that this is a time of great suffering and death, yet there are opportunities to redeem this pain into powerful good. Help us to see those ways and act upon them, Amen.

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