Read Genesis 50:15-21
15 After burying his father,Joseph went back to Egypt. All his brothers who had come with him to bury his father returned with him. After the funeral,Joseph’s brothers talked among themselves: “What if Joseph is carrying a grudge and decides to pay us back for all the wrong we did him?”
16-17 So they sent Joseph a message,”Before his death,your father gave this command: Tell Joseph,’Forgive your brothers’ sin-all that wrongdoing. They did treat you very badly.’ Will you do it? Will you forgive the sins of the servants of your father’s God?”
When Joseph received their message,he wept.
18 Then the brothers went in person to him,threw themselves on the ground before him and said,”We’ll be your slaves.”
19-21 Joseph replied,”Don’t be afraid. Do I act for God? Don’t you see,you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good,as you see all around you right now-life for many people. Easy now,you have nothing to fear; I’ll take care of you and your children.” He reassured them,speaking with them heart-to-heart. (THE MESSAGE)
We can easily misunderstand the sovereignty of God. We may figure that it means he somehow micromanages the world. He determines this person gets cancer and that person gets a free overseas holiday. He decides that one child is a paragon of Christian virtue and another child ends up in the gutter. This is God as the all-powerful CEO of the universe,exercising a sort of brute power because he happens to be God.
There is a better way of viewing his sovereignty. Joseph gives us some idea of it. All sorts of evil is done in this world. God is not the source of it. Yet God allows it to happen. So are we left with a hand-wringing God who is helplessly looking on,only able to assure us that one day things will get a whole lot better?
Not at all. Even in this imperfect world God is at work to achieve his good purposes.
He doesn’t stop evil coming our way whether by other people or by more impersonal means. His sovereignty is not about his quarantining us from evil. Nor is it about his bearing responsibility for that evil. Rather,he ensures that his ultimate good purposes are not thwarted,and that even evil itself can turn out to have good results. Which is what Joseph told his brothers.
God ceaselessly works to weave his good plans into the evil and disorder that comes our way. He could wipe out all evil and disorder in an instant but he chooses for now to freely limit his limitless power. He chooses not to obliterate or deny badness but to interweave his own good plans into it.