Taking the Bad with the Good

Life isn’t fair. It was never promised to be. Unfortunately, too many Gospel message presentations deliver a false message which says when you accept Jesus Christ life suddenly is all better and it is that way forever. They treat salvation almost like a good luck charm. This isn’t the reality of the Gospel. The Gospel points out that by accepting Christ we are going to take stands that put us in opposition to some of the core values of people around us. And that means life gets harder, not easier. So the idea that by becoming a Christian we suddenly escape the unfair aspects of life just doesn’t make sense, especially when the real message is that if we’re living for our faith, that unfairness actually gets worse. The counterbalance to that is we don’t have to measure our happiness by worldly standards any longer. Instead, we know that we have a permanent, eternal gift that can never be taken away from us. We are to live for the life to come, putting our hope and our joy in it and in the One who has promised it to us, Jesus. Life doesn’t suddenly get more fair. Joseph understood that. When reconciled with his brothers, this is what he told them:

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.” And they came closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt. – Genesis 45:4-8, NASB

Joseph’s life hadn’t been fair and it was their fault. Joseph could have been bitter at his brothers. They sold him into slavery. And that led to Potiphar’s house. He looked like was making progress until the wife took an unholy interest in him. That landed him in jail. He does someone a favor and they forget about him. So in jail he languished, an innocent man. Had his brothers not sold him into slavery, those bad events in his life would have been avoided. But note what Joseph keys in on. He knows why those events happened. They had to happen. He had a greater purpose. He had a mission. Though he didn’t know it at the time, he was going to be responsible for saving many people. And, by the way, it wasn’t just the joy of reconciliation that allowed Joseph to put on a happy face over what had happened in the past. This is what Joseph honestly felt. We know this because after Jacob died, the brothers were worried that Joseph would take revenge. He didn’t. Instead, he told them:

But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. – Genesis 50:19-21, NASB

Yes, Joseph had some bad breaks in life. But he didn’t let those bad breaks hold him back. He didn’t let them turn him bitter and hateful. Rather, he saw past them. He saw the bigger picture. And because of this, he could take the bad with the good. Our attitude should be the same as Joseph’s. While we may not be destined to save multitudes like Joseph did, there is still a purpose for each of us. There is still a reason and a mission for us. Life is going to deal its hits. Some are going to knock us back. Some are going to knock us down. But we need to get back up and keep moving forward. As Christians we have a greater hope. This life can’t beat us. It’s already been beaten. So we need to press on. I’ll close with a quote from the last Rocky movie, Rocky Balboa. It comes from the scene between Rocky and his son and his son is blaming Rocky for the son’s lack of success and prosperity and happiness. Rocky speaks some kind words about always loving his son, but then he levels the truth at him. This is what he says:

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.”

Life’s not going to be fair. The world is mean and nasty. But we are already victors because of Christ (1 John 5:3-5). There is no reason for us to not get back up and keep moving forward. So let’s do just that and take the bad right along with the good.

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