Do bad things happen to faithful Christians? There are some who would say no. The thought is that if you have been faithful then nothing bad should touch your life. If there is some kind of calamity that besets your life it must be that there is some kind of sin in your life. It is true that God promises to chasten those He loves according to Hebrews 12:5-7. I recently was studying the life of Joseph and his story helped me understand suffering and why this happens. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers because they were jealous of the fact that their father, Jacob, made no secret that Joseph was his favorite son. After being sold into slavery in Egypt, the Lord blessed Joseph who became one of Potiphar’s personal servants and was then framed by Potiphar’s wife. Joseph was sent to prison where the Lord again blessed the work of Joseph and he was placed in charge of all the prisoners. He later became known for interpreting dreams and was called to interpret one of Pharoah’s dreams. Joseph answered Pharoah’s questions about this particular dream and Joseph was appointed governor over all of Egypt second only to Pharoah himself. In all of this Joseph’s work he was blessed as he submitted to God. Yet He was sold into slavery by his own brothers. He was wrongly accused of a sexual assault and jailed for several years. Most of us would call these events in life bad things. Yet, in the end, Joseph had such favor with Pharoah that he was in a position to save his family and the Hebrew people from starvation.
Following all these events, Joseph told his brothers these words in Genesis 50:20: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (NASB) Those bad things were turned around as blessings. Clearly Joseph trusted God through all his troubles — imprisonment and the loss of freedom as a slave. But all the while the Lord was moving the pieces on the chessboard. He was in complete control of the events the whole time. Joseph surely reached the end of his understanding of what was happening in his life. But he trusted when he could not see the way forward. Do bad things happen to faithful believers? In our feeble human vision it seems we would have to say yes. If we remain faithful we have no idea what may come next, even if it is only the satisfaction of knowing that we have lived for God. The Bible tells us in Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (NKJV) The ripples that have spread from the life of Joseph have touched the lives of millions as an encouragement. You have no way of knowing whose life will be impacted by yours for good or for ill. Remain faithful to God and do not lose heart even in the darkest of moments. God has promised us these words in Jeremiah 29:11 when he says “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”(NKJV) God has a divine plan for our lives, and while we may not see his unseen hand guiding the circumstances of our lives, we should do as the Bible teaches us in Proverbs 3:5 and that is to “Trust in the Lord with all our hearts, and lean not on our own understanding.” (NKJV) This is hard to do when we don’t understand what God’s plan, but he will bring His will and His plan to fruition in our lives, even when we don’t understand. That’s when we have to have faith and trust in Him.• Pastor Matt Skiles is pastor of Lebanon Rock Church.