How God Uses Human Failure
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20
Living in a broken world creates a kind of spiritual skepticism in our lives, especially when we see human failure mirrored in the lives of those whom we have put on pedestals thinking of them as a cut above the ordinary. Then when they fail you, you ask, “Is there anyone who really lives the life, instead of simply of using the language and saying the right things?”
The reality is that God is sovereign and He uses human failure—no matter whether it is the failure of fellow Christians who negatively impact your life or the failures of those living on the other side of the cross—to accomplish what He wants done in your life.
But first, what does it mean when we say that God is sovereign? Simply put, it means that God is in control, that what happens to you is not a matter of chance or fate but something that God allowed—why? Perhaps you will never know. To show you His strength, His hand of protection, His provision in ways that would not have happened, had you not been a victim of someone’s wrongdoing? Yes, of course, God could very easily have gently laid his hand on the life of the person who did you wrong, but that would mean that God would remove human will, that He would not allow His own to be impacted by the sin of others.
And from the beginning of time God has chosen to walk with His own through a corrupted, sinful world, promising to be with them as they go through the dark valley but never promising to deliver them from the impact of all wrong this side of heaven.
The story of a young man who ultimately became prime minister of Egypt vividly illustrates that truth. His name? Joseph; and you read about him in the Old Testament book of Genesis beginning in chapter 37.
The story, briefly, is that he was first a victim of his brothers’ hatred and jealousy. He was stripped of his clothing, thrown into a pit, and barely escaped death, being sold to Midianite traders who sold him into slavery. That was his first dark encounter with human failure. Fast forward a bit. Then Joseph is bought by one of Pharaoh’s officials and finds success as the manager of his household. He’s on the way up, right? Not exactly. Refusing the advances of his employer’s wife, he ends up in prison. He’s back to square one on the game board of life.
Ultimately, however, he became very powerful as prime minister and ultimately saved the lives of his entire family. Now, here’s the point: God uses what we think of as failure as the springboard to what He wants to do, lifting us up far beyond the point we would have been had we not been—yes, victims—of wrongdoing.
If you could only see the entire picture of how God’s strong hand is still hovering over your life, sustaining you, showing you that you will never be in a pit deeper than His hand can reach, how different would be our attitude when things happen that we dislike and even deplore.
Of course, no one would choose the nakedness and shame of being thrown into the cistern, or eating the stale bread of a dark prison, wondering if you would ever know freedom again, or facing the long night of suffering. Only through difficulty do we learn what God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
The key to all of this is unswerving faith in God’s goodness and His ability to sustain you in times of difficulty. That’s what faith is all about.
Resource reading: Genesis 47:1-50:26