20 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.
This was an incredible statement by Joseph to his brothers many years after they had sold him to slave traders – the start of a series of seemingly very bad things that Joseph had experienced at the hands of others. He then went from being a slave to getting thrown into prison. And even when he got out of prison he was stuck in a country not his own. He was sold at age 17, and got out of prison at age 30 – 40 percent of a young life that was permanently altered in the process.
It wasn’t until well over 10 years after getting out of prison that Joseph said these words to his brothers. During the 13 years that he was a slave and in prison we do not know what he was thinking and feeling – it could easily have been a combination of things – wrestling with the situation he was in, occasional anger at his brothers, while also trusting God in the midst of his difficulties*. We do know that he acted honorably and faithfully during those 13 years (Genesis 39). We also know that God took care of Joseph even in his difficulties. And we know that somehow during that time, God gave Joseph the understanding that HE was ultimately controlling things for ultimate good.
The point for us is that more than God allowing evil, and more than God making good out of evil (“when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”), God planned for the evil actions to be used for good – “God meant it for good” (Gen 50:20).
The difficult to accept, but important to understand point, is that God may be using your narcissist for good. Yes, we need to exercise practical wisdom in dealing with them. And yes, there are times to avoid them (see here, here, here, here, and here). And it certainly is not easy. But, the fact that they are in our lives is not random, but somehow designed by God for our good. This may be a difficult pill to swallow, especially when you may have experienced a lot of pain at the hand of your narcissist. But taking this more constructive approach to how we view the situation can be a big step in moving toward real and lasting healing, and gaining victory over the situation.
God using evil for good is one of the most difficult questions out there, but it must be addressed if we hope to get to the bottom of things. And this is one of the handful of questions that people tend to choke on in their search for God.
God is much wiser (and more loving) than we are. So we must approach this question from the viewpoint that God knows what He is doing, and that evil fits in with His plan of love.
We will explore how God might be using them for good in the next few blog posts.
For those of you wanting to dig deeper into this subject, here are some additional resources:
From Randy Alcorn
There Is No Pointless Suffering
If God Is Good: Faith In The Midst Of Suffering and Evil
From the Blue Letter Bible
The Problem Of Evil
From Desiring God
Call That Love by Jonathan Parnell
Is God Less Glorious Because He Ordained That Evil Be by John Piper
John Piper on Man’s Sin and God’s Sovereignty
Seven Things The Bible Says About Evil by Johnathan Bowers
For Your Joy by John Piper
Can A Good God Bring Pain by Dave Zuleger
From Grace To You (John MacArthur)
Joseph: Because God Meant It For Good
From Tim Keller
With All This Suffering, How Could There Be A God?