Someone once said, “Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.” The quote is attributed to multiple sources, and although I don’t know where it originated, I agree with the idea. The vast majority of life is comprised of our attitudes toward whatever it is we face at any given moment.
Scripture consistently teaches that God is for His people; He’s not out to get us. Despite how we may feel, we can be sure that in every single situation God is actively at work for our ultimate good and His highest glory.
And yet the struggle to live in light of this assurance is practically as old as the human race. In fact, all the way back in Genesis, a well-known character seemed to forget this truth. Jacob’s beloved son, Joseph, had been sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. Unwilling to admit what they did, the brothers deceived their father into believing Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. Suffering had since compounded in Jacob’s life, causing him eventually to cry out, “All this has come against me” (Gen. 42:36).
Joseph demonstrated a contrasting perspective. He had endured the hatred of his brothers, life as a slave, being forgotten in prison, and false accusations of his integrity. In spite of this, God was with Joseph and eventually elevated him to the second highest position in Egypt. Even in these less-than-ideal situations with evil at work against him, Joseph recognized that God too was working. Face-to-face with the brothers who betrayed him, Joseph opted against using his power for payback. Instead he made one of the most stunning statements in all of the Bible: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20).
Joseph’s life was governed by a confidence in God’s sovereign goodness that many of us fail to embrace. If anyone had an excuse to doubt God, it was Joseph. But it appears he wasn’t overly rattled by his perpetual misfortune.
Make no mistake – evil is evil. God never calls evil good, and we shouldn’t either. But we can’t let the wickedness of evil blind us to the goodness of God. If we become too preoccupied with what’s going wrong, we’ll soon forget the One who is making all things right.
Much of what happens to us is entirely beyond our control, but how we respond is for us to decide. Will we adopt Jacob’s mentality and spend our lives lamenting what seems to come against us, or will we, like Joseph, joyfully trust the One who is at work for us?