The good of God often comes after something bad happens.
God delights in turning the plans of the enemy against his servants into foolishness. When Pharaoh ordered all Jewish children killed at birth, God hid Moses in the very court of Pharaoh.
Samson says “Out of the eater came something to eat” (Judges 14:14). The lion that meant to kill him simply became food for him.
The 50:20 principle
Joseph said to his wicked brothers who sold him as a slave to Egypt: “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).
Indeed, the good of God often comes after something bad happens. God does not make the good out of the good. He makes the good out of the bad. As a matter of fact, he often deliberately allows something to become very bad before intervening to turn it into something marvelous.
Of all the sick people at the pool of Bethesda, Jesus only healed a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. He did not go to Bethany on hearing Lazarus was sick. He waited until he was dead and buried and then raised him from the dead.
God creates success out of failures. He creates life out of death. He creates wealth out of poverty. He brings joy out of sadness. The three-pronged attack on Jehoshaphat’s Judah became an instrument of enrichment. God overruled it and converted it to gain (2 Chronicles 20:1-25).
When a man of the world is sad, it means something bad happened to him. But when a believer is sad, it means something good is going to happen to him. Godly sorrow comes not to make us miserable but to wipe away all tears from our eyes.
How would we boast about God if we do not go through trials and tribulations and ultimately come out triumphant? Just think how many people must have glorified God for Daniel’s amazing protection from the lions; or for Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego’s deliverance from the blazing furnace.
If the bible were to be written today, would we be in it? If so, our nick-names must become Jairus and Lazarus. We have to die and then rise from the dead. We have to be written off and then suddenly be promoted. We have to be thrown down wells, sold off as slaves, sent to Kiri-kiri prison, only to emerge as Presidents and Prime Ministers.
Faith without trials is worthless. Faith prospers in the context of adversity. Trials and tribulations, afflictions and adversities are all designed to bring us into deeper knowledge of God. Therefore, the psalmist acknowledges with the benefit of hindsight: “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes” (Psalm 119:71).
The 66:12 principle
It takes nine months for a pregnant woman to give birth to a child. If it took only one week, we might be contemptuous of it. Nothing about pregnancy is easy or convenient. There is the morning sickness; the vomiting and the bloated feeling. There are the terrible labour pains and the agony of childbirth.
And yet, everything about pregnancy is natural to a woman. She is fitted and suited to it. Many agonise over being barren. In effect, they pray for the privilege of going through the “ordeal” of pregnancy and childbirth. They do this knowing that, in the end, a child would come into the world.
The psalmist says of biblical Israel: “You, O God, have tested us; you have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; you laid affliction on our backs. You have caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; but you brought us out to rich fulfilment” (Psalm 66:10-12).
Let me tell you a parable. Armed robbers broke into a man’s house. They cornered him in his bedroom. In desperation, he pleaded to be allowed to say his last prayer. His assailants were amused. They told him to go ahead but make it brief.
The man went down on his knees. “Father,” he cried silently, “I need you to deliver me. Don’t let me die like this.”
He had barely started the prayer when sirens were heard. The robbers panicked and made a dash for it, leaving behind everything they had gathered.
The man later discovered there was a fire two buildings away from his house. The sirens came from the fire brigade on the way to the burning building. But his deliverance was much more than he presumed. In the haste to make a quick get-away, one of the robbers dropped his wallet. Inside were ten thousand dollars in clean one hundred dollar bills.
“That,” said the Lord said to him, “is your disturbance allowance.”