“He can use suffering to strengthen our character. He can use evil to accomplish good (precisely the nature of the discussion in the book of Habakkuk). God’s sovereignty is demonstrated in that whatever personal or nonpersonal agents do, God takes it and turns it to his purpose.”
This quote is from biblical scholar, John H. Walton, from chap 16 of his book The Lost World of Genesis One. Understanding Walton’s point about how God “takes” and “turns” suffering and evil “to his purpose” in order to “strengthen our character “ and to “accomplish good” respectively, are vitally important concepts to grasp.
Paul wrote to the church in Rome to encourage them, so that they would see how God takes and turns suffering to His purpose by giving the believers insight for…
Romans 5:3 (ESV) – “…knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
Likewise, Joseph made this point to his brothers about what they did to him, so that they would see how God takes and turns evil to His purpose…
Genesis 50:20 (ESV) – “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
Unless we Christians begin to realize how God is working in the midst of this fallen age, we will remain blind to the character (in us) and the good (in everything else) that God is accomplishing. The prophet Habakkuk offers us a model for how we ought to respond to the environment that we find ourselves in…
Habakkuk 3:17-19 (ESV)
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.
Godspeed, to the brethren!
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