God’s divine purpose is always good, and He is able to use and circumstance to achieve it. He doesn’t always create the situation but can and will turn it to victory if we yield it to Him. Even when wrong choices create problems, He will work all things to the good of those who love Him if we turn to Him in faith and surrender.
But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. (Genesis 50:20)
It took a long time and a lot of hardship for Joseph to mature to this point. The young Joseph sold into slavery by his own brothers had a lot to learn, but thankfully, he had God to teach him. Faith, in God’s hands, is a powerful transformer of weak and arrogant human beings. In today’s verse, he captures an essential truth that believers can only learn through experience. Everything that happens, when yielded to God, will be transformed by divine purpose. This sounds great until we’re neck deep in the proverbial. When faith hits a speed wobble, it’s hard to hold onto spiritual truths that our reality contradicts. But circumstances cannot alter the outcome of what God has promised. There’s no way of knowing how long it might take. In Joseph’s case it took years, but God’s purposes triumphed in a way that none of them ever imagined.
Divine purpose and our free will.
We often misunderstand the role divine purpose plays in our lives, inadvertently blaming God for our own choices or behaviour. Joseph was a case in point. There is no doubt that God had plans and revealed these to him. But He was the beloved and indulged son, and that made him arrogant. His pride offended His brothers and resulted in them turning against him. Had he shown humility, things might have gone differently. We must never automatically assume that God’s purposes have engineered the situations we find ourselves. That is sometimes the case, but often enough, He intervenes to transform our defeats into victories. Our free will is often more likely to cause the circumstances we blame God for. Divine purpose seems to create the same kind of confusion as predestination. We have the false understanding that both override the free will He has given us.
To understand divine purpose, we can use salvation as an example. God’s purpose is that all who turn to Christ will be saved. That purpose sent Jesus to the cross – God did everything to make sure salvation was possible. But we have free will. We can choose salvation or reject it. The same applies for predestination. God’s purpose is not defeated at all and we retain our free will. In Joseph’s case, God’s purpose was that a refuge would be made in Egypt for Jacob and His family. To fulfil this, He used Joseph’s arrogance and the brothers’ resentment. He didn’t create the situation, but He did use it to fulfil His divine purpose. Free will created circumstances which affected them all. God was able to use those to transform defeat and weakness into something powerful. He could have easily used any other situation if this one hadn’t arisen.
Our attitude to God and divine purpose.
What’s significant in the story of the entire Joseph family was their attitude to God. His brothers might have sinned horribly, but they were the sons of Jacob. They would have had a relationship of worship. It’s likely that they made the appropriate sacrifices and obeyed the law. Jacob, certainly, had a relationship with God. Joseph’s story reveals his faith and worshipful attitude. I’m not sure how full of praise and faith I’d be if I were in his situation. Instead of whining and complaining, Joseph turned to God and surrendered all to him. He lived a life of praise, faith, and righteousness, and God honoured that. In the same way, God honoured the rest of the family by making a safe refuge in the famine. Divine purpose is outworked in our lives when we have the right attitude – worship, obedience, and surrender.
We all know the ‘all things work to the good’ verse, but the key phrase, ‘those who love the Lord,’ can get lost along the way. Divine purpose is God working out everything for good because His purpose for us is good. But we must love Him. That’s the crux of the matter. We can’t avoid what happens a lot of the time, but loving God means trusting God. When we trust Him, we yield it all to Him in faith. He is faithful. When we give it to Him, He works it to our good. We still have to go through the process, but we’re assured that the outcome will be victorious. I know from my own life that He has taken the most painful and tragic situations and made them a powerful testimony to help so many others. Only God can work kingdom testimony from brokenness.
Discerning divine purpose.
The circumstances are usually the materials He works with rather than His divine purpose. He’s more concerned about what happens in us and through us than what happens to us. This doesn’t mean that He doesn’t care. He does. He wants none of us to go through hardship. We live in a fallen world, however, and between that, our own foolishness, and the work of the enemy, stuff happens. God’s purpose for us is always victory. Rather than removing the situation, He brings us through and uses it to transform us to impact our own lives and those of others. His purpose is always so much bigger than you and me. There are times when our circumstances are His purpose for us. He may put us in specific situations in order to bring us together with someone or to teach us something. Discerning His purpose can sometimes help us.
God has promised that if we ask for wisdom, He will give it willingly and without reproach. Discerning His divine purpose in any situation is simply to ask Him. It makes absolute sense that if we know what He desires in any given circumstance, we can get though it quicker. If we learn what He desires us to learn, we can move on. We will recognise the person He wants us to reach out to far quicker. Self won’t get in the way, we can be obedient, and the difficult times will pass. Sometimes, though, He may simply tell us to wait. That’s the difficult one, because it requires patience, endurance, perseverance, and faith. Yes, all those things that are also part of His purpose for us. If we don’t discern something particular, then we wait for Him to work in us for our good.
Evil purpose is always defeated by divine purpose.
This is our ‘take home’ truth for today. Any evil levelled against us will work to our good. That’s because we love Him and belong to Him. We are His people and His children, and will always establish the victory of the cross in our lives. This is the power behind divine purpose that should encourage every believer. No matter what man and the devil throw at us, it cannot defeat will of God for us. Our victory is supernatural and eternal. Everything we have endured is now power for good in God’s hands. Better still, it no longer has the power to chain us or hold us back. In Jesus, the past is gone. We yield it freely in faith, knowing that He uses it to work supernaturally in our lives and in the lives of others. His good is beyond measure or description.
Gracious Father, thank You for the assurance that Your divine purpose is always for our good. Forgive us if we have blamed You for our own foolish choices. Help us to love and to praise You in all circumstances, and to yield our lives so that You may work according to Your will. You are so much greater than any pain, suffering, or hardship. We rejoice in the truth that evil will never prevail against Your perfect power and purposes.