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For Bad or Good?

"All these things are against me" (Genesis 42:36).

These words were spoken by Jacob, the father of the nation of Israel. Of his twelve sons, Joseph was his favorite, and so Jacob carefully and lovingly "made him a coat of many colors" (Genesis 37:3). Jacob fashioned Joseph's coat with only love in mind, but from the time Joseph put it on, his life entered a downward spiral that brought such adversity to Joseph and grief to his father, leading him to declare these despairing words.

Have you ever felt this way? That everything in your life was working against you? That your plans have all come apart, and that there is no hope for the future? Well, if you are a true Christian—if you have repented to God and trusted Jesus Christ for salvation—then just the opposite is true! God's promise to you is that "all things work together for good" (Romans 8:28).

The story is told of a preacher who would visit the homes of families who were going through tragedy or trial. He would show them a woven silk bookmark with tangled threads running in all directions. It had no discernible pattern, and the colors were all jumbled up. After a while, he would turn the bookmark over and show them that what they had been looking at was the back side; the front revealed a beautiful design with the words "God is love!"

The lesson is that God is the skillful weaver who patterns our lives according to His plan. From our perspective, things may look like a tangled mess, but in God's design "all things work together for good." The knowledge of this truth brought much comfort to those families, and will do the same for us today.

In this issue we aim to explore the reality and power of Romans 8:28, and discern what it says (and does not say). We will also see a great example of its truth in the life of Joseph, and I trust that you will be encouraged to grasp hold of its life-changing perspective.

—T. Don Johnson