No circumstance is so bad that God can’t use it for good
“His father and mother didn’t realize the LORD was at work in this…”Judges 14:4 (NLT)
If you’ve ever read Samson’s story in Judges 13-16, you know he made lots of bad choices. He was an only child and obviously spoiled. He was the type of kid that probably kept his parents up at night praying.
The first of Samson’s reckless choices was when he married the wrong gal on a whim. It was a near-fatal attraction. Unable to talk him out of it, Samson’s parents could only shake their heads at his obstinance.
But as this part of the story is told in Judges 14, the author inserts a statement that is a total game-changer. Buried in the heart of Samson’s tangled drama is this truth: The providence and sovereignty of God overrides our dumbest decisions, our worst failures, and our deepest disappointments.
You see, after Samson married the Philistine girl and his parents were beside themselves about it, the author says,
“His father and mother did not realize the LORD was at work in this, creating an opportunity to work against the Philistines, who ruled over Israel at that time” (v. 4)
What? God was at work in this?
Yes. They could not see it, but God was at work.
Although Samson was acting foolishly and thinking only of himself, God’s plans and purposes were bigger than his wrong-headedness. God would use Samson’s questionable associations to bring about victory over the oppressive Philistines. Yes, Samson had married the enemy, but God would use this marriage to eventually bring down the enemy and liberate a people.
It was a bad thing that God would use for good.
How about you, do you have any bad things in your life? Silly question, huh? We all do. Whether it’s a regrettable decision in the past, or a family problem that threatens to ruin your future, we all have those bad things that seem to loom so large over us. They have a way of dogging our thoughts and shadowing our every move.
But there is a silver lining. For those who love God there is this promise to apply even to the worst of situations. Here it is, in bold:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.Romans 8:28
In Samson’s case, God used the ugly to accomplish something good. This is not to excuse Samson’s sin, but rather to emphasize “…how God providentially overrules human folly and brings his will to pass in spite of it” (Tom Constable). Samson’s parents could not see God’s hand when they were in the middle of the heart-wrenching drama, but yet He was working.
But there’s an even greater example of how God can take a bad thing and bring good out of it. On one level, the death of Jesus was an epic tragedy. Talk about a cloudy day. It was literally so dark the day Jesus died. Legally, it was the most severe miscarriage of justice of all time. Everything about the crucifixion was cruel and wrong.
Yet, on a higher level something redemptive was taking place. There was a silver lining. God was at work. From Heaven’s perspective, it wasn’t just a man dying on that cross; it was a Savior redeeming. Jesus was dying in our place, for our sins, so that we could live. Really live.
Friday was so very dark, but Sunday was coming.
This is Romans 8:28 at its best.
Friend, no matter how broken or twisted your circumstances may be, the silver lining is that God is going to use everything ultimately for your good and for His glory. Whatever you’re facing, He’s at work in it. You can count on that.
Got clouds? The providence of God will always be your silver lining.
It’s a new day with God. Run with it.