“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Not everything that comes our way is good. Nor is God responsible for everything that happens to us, regardless of what people may have told you about the sovereignty of God. We live in a broken and fallen world, and much of the evil that happens around us is due to our fallen state and to sinful men seeking to promote their own interests at the expense of others. There is no use trying to untwist the theological or philosophical pretzel of how a tragic accident, a terminal sickness, or a bankruptcy is somehow God’s tool to teach you, humble you, or otherwise perfect you. He is NOT the author of such things, but rather they are the result of the long reach of the fall of man. Bad things happen to good people, but God is not the author of the bad that happens, and even when our poor choices land us in trouble, God is gracious and merciful, and will help to lift us out of the pit we dug for ourselves.
What does come from the hand of God is good (James 1:17), and He delights in doing good for His children (Matthew 7:11). However, He does not shield us from all the challenges we face in an evil world. In fact, Jesus plainly said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). While we will most certainly go through our share of difficulties, many of which will be designed by the devil to deter or to destroy, the Lord promises to be with us and give us grace to overcome.
That is why, while we recognize that not every circumstance that comes our way is from God, we can thank Him in the midst of them all, knowing that He will bring good from what the devil means for evil. The apostle Paul saw the silver lining in the crisis times of His life, such as when his imprisonment in Rome opened for him a door to share the gospel with the entire palace guard, who came to respect him as a genuine messenger of Christ (see Philippians 1:12-18), or when his persecutions in Philippi enabled him to preach good news to a shaken prison guard, ready to take his own life (see Acts 16:25-34).
Time would fail us to try to list the many opportunities that came out of what we would have called a failure or setback. The late Chuck Colson, once special counsel to President Nixon and founder of the world’s largest prison ministry, Prison Fellowship, has said that his greatest ministry came out of his greatest failure. It was his own incarceration after the scandal of Watergate that caused him to see the opportunity to reach prisoners with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
While God is not responsible for our personal failures or the evil that may come our way, in His providence and foreknowledge, He often has a trapdoor of opportunity positioned at the low points of our lives that can lead to a new world of possibilities. If you are in such a place today, seek Him in faith, humbly surrendering to His guiding hand, and He will bring you through your darkness to a new day of hope and victory.