God at times permits tragedies. He permits the ground to grow dry and stalks to grow bare. He allows Satan to unleash mayhem. But he doesn’t allow Satan to triumph. Isn’t this the promise of Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV)?
God promises to render beauty out of “all things,” not “each thing.” The isolated events may be evil, but the ultimate culmination is good.
We see small examples of this in our own lives. When you sip on a cup of coffee and say, “This is good,” what are you saying? The plastic bag that contains the beans is good? The beans themselves are good? Hot water is good? A coffee filter is good? No, none of these. Good happens when the ingredients work together: the bag opened, the beans ground into powder, the water heated to the right temperature. It is the collective cooperation of the elements that creates good.
Nothing in the Bible would cause us to call a famine good or a heart attack good or a terrorist attack good. These are terrible calamities, born out of a fallen earth. Yet every message in the Bible, especially the story of Joseph, compels us to believe that God will mix them with other ingredients and bring good out of them.
But we must let God define good. Our definition includes health, comfort, and recognition. His definition? In the case of his Son, Jesus Christ, the good life consisted of struggles, storms, and death. But God worked it all together for the greatest of good: his glory and our salvation.