Turning Evil into Good
May 9, 2024 Blogs by: Tim Jennings, M.D.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28 NKJV).

The Bible does not say all things are good, but that our God, who is good, can take what is evil, what is not good, and bring good out of it—if we trust Him!

The temptation for us, however, is to distrust God and seek to address the evil, the wrong, or the injustice ourselves rather than faithfully practicing God’s methods in our own lives and trusting Him to bring about the good.

The Bible contains multiple real-life examples—real historical people, who went through real difficulties, who had real evil perpetrated upon them, and how when they trusted God, He brought good out of the evil. But the Bible also demonstrates that when people try to fix things in their own way, using the methods of this world, God sends them messages of warning, counsels them to stay faithful, and implores them to trust Him, but if they insist on doing it their own way, He lets them go to reap what their actions cause—pain, suffering, and sometimes death.

God Turning Evil into Good for Those Who Trust Him

Perhaps the most famous example of God turning evil into good is the story of Joseph, whose brothers sold him into slavery. Despite the evil done to him, Joseph remained faithful and trusted God, who blessed Joseph and, eventually (13 years later) intervened to have Joseph elevated to rule over Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. When his brothers finally stood before him confessing their wrong, he said to them,

You plotted evil against me, but God turned it into good, in order to preserve the lives of many people who are alive today because of what happened (Genesis 50:20 GNT).

Yes! Because Joseph stayed faithful in the face of injustice, betrayal, abuse, and other wrongs, God was able to work through him to bring about great good.

There are many more examples in Scripture of God bringing good out of evil in the lives of those who trust Him with how things turn out rather than seeking to fix it themselves by doing what seems right from a human perspective, using the methods of the world:

  • Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego trusted God when evil people sought their destruction. And because they trusted God all the way to being thrown into a fiery furnace, God turned the evil into good by not only delivering them in a miraculous way but also, through their witness, they reached a pagan king with the truth about God—as well as inspiring billions through history.
  • Daniel trusted God in the lion’s den, and God brought good out of that evil. After the evil plot by jealous magistrates resulted in the law that no one could pray to anyone but Darius for 30 days, Daniel, rather than pretending to comply with human law and seeking to solve the dilemma through human methods, such as moving to an inner closet to pray in secret, he continued his daily habit of praying openly at his window toward Jerusalem. When Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den, God turned that evil into good by protecting Daniel and, through the prophet’s witness, reached Darius and also inspired billions down through history. But if Daniel had tried to avoid the problem by using the wisdom of this world, and even while continuing to pray to the true God, prayed in his closet instead of openly, God could not have brought about the same good from those events.
  • Jehoshaphat was confronted with an enemy army descending upon Judah—evil was bearing down. But rather than do as the world does and gather his army to go to war, Jehoshaphat called the singers together and they praised Yahweh, trusting in God, who then brought good out of the evil, not only by destroying the enemy army, but also enriching Judah with the wealth of the invaders, and giving a testimony for the faithful down through history when we face enemy attacks.
  • Satan persecuted the early church through the agencies of both apostate Judaism and pagan Rome. But those faithful Christians, like Stephen, loved their enemies and trusted their lives to God—and rather than practicing the world’s methods to fight against their enemies, they blessed and forgave them instead. And because they did so, they advanced the gospel and good came out of the evil as souls were saved for eternity.

In my own life, as I was actively sharing this end-time message about God’s character of love, some church leaders opposed what I was teaching and sought to censor the message by using their influence to get my first book, Could It Be This Simple? A Biblical Model for Healing the Mind, dropped by the publisher. In 2010, because of the misguided actions of those leaders, the publisher indeed canceled my contract and returned the rights to me—and God has brought good out of their actions! Come And Reason Ministries began publishing the book, subsequently giving away tens of thousands of copies around the world. It also has since been developed into a prison ministries workbook and translated into Spanish, German, Portuguese, Croatian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Polish, Afrikaans, and Korean, reaching multitudes more than it would have had the publisher kept the rights.

Other leaders who disagreed with our message succeeded in having my Bible study class banned from my local church. This was distressing and hurtful, but instead of retaliating, we turned to God, and He led us to establish Come And Reason as a nonprofit ministry in 2010. We have subsequently reached hundreds of thousands of people around the world and have distribution hubs in Australia and South Africa, a weekly webcast, blogs, podcasts, free sharing materials, and more.

We serve the God of reality, a God who is love, and when we trust Him, He always brings good out of the evil that others try to inflict upon us—even if that good may not be known until Jesus comes again.

Trusting the Ways of the World

Conversely, when we don’t trust God but instead attempt to fix things using the wisdom of the world, we reap pain, suffering, heartache, and often death.

  • Adam and Eve, believing the lies of Satan, chose to break trust with God and attempted to advance themselves to become like God—and reaped pain, suffering, and death instead.
  • Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, rather than trusting God with their position and duties, sought to advance themselves into powerful political positions when they opposed Moses but ended up dying when the earth swallowed them up.
  • King Saul, rather than trusting God and following His directions, rebelled and sought counsel from a witch, and he ended up defeated, discouraged, depressed, hopeless, and dead by suicide.
  • Solomon, rather than trusting God with the security of the nation, sought to secure the nation through multiple human treaties that required marriage to multiple pagan wives, and he was corrupted to the point that he eventually worshiped false gods—and he even sacrificed one of his sons.
  • Two thousand years ago, Jewish leaders affirmed Abraham as their father, diligently studied Scripture, and claimed to be blessed by God, but instead of trusting God, they embraced and practiced the methods of this world and ended up rejecting and crucifying Jesus.
  • The millions throughout history who have called themselves Christian but, instead of trusting Jesus and practicing His methods, accepted the world’s ways, believed the lie that God’s law functions like human law, and broke trust with God by using the methods of this world to try to make things right. They went to war (crusades), persecuted those who believed differently (burned them at the stake), and sought to control governments to coerce consciences. Instead of becoming more like Jesus, they became more like His enemy.

The record of human history is clear: God brings good out of evil when we trust Him and apply His methods and principles to our lives. The trap of Satan is to get people to seek to do right, to do “justice,” to resolve conflict and problems, through using his methods and principles—but we can never win God’s cause by using Satan’s methods!

As the final events unfold upon planet Earth, we will all be faced with threats, fears, and injustice of all kinds, and we will be tempted to redress the wrong in our own strength by aligning with and using the powers of this fallen world. It is then that we must remember that God is the one who brings the good, but He is able to do this only as we trust Him.

So when you are tempted, go to Jesus. When you are hurting, go to Jesus. When you are angry, frustrated, and feeling pressure to strike out at those doing wrong, go to Jesus and invite Him into your heart, into your home, into your circumstance, and ask Him to act, lead, deliver, enlighten, direct, and bring about His will in every circumstance. Commit yourself to honoring God, practicing His methods, loving rather than hating, forgiving rather than retaliating, praying for those who mistreat you rather than seeking to punish them—to living God’s methods of truth, love, and freedom by trusting Him with setting things right, praising the beauty of holiness, and then open your eyes and watch the glory of our Creator as He steps into the situation to bring good out of evil!

 

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Tim Jennings, M.D. Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Fellow of the Southern Psychiatric Association, and an international speaker. He served as president of the Southern and Tennessee Psychiatric Associations and is president and founder of Come and Reason Ministries. Dr. Jennings has authored many books, including The God-Shaped Brain, The God-Shaped Heart, and The Aging Brain.
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