When God Turns Evil Into Good

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” – Genesis 50:20 ESV

photo: Raye Wortel

photo: Raye Wortel

Most of us, at some time, have experienced betrayal, humiliation or hatred by someone we’ve known or loved.


Yet despite their harm we survived. Though we may stand today with hard-learned lessons in our pocket and a guard upon our heart, we found a way to carry on.


Good for us.


But what would happen if that person showed up on your doorstep today?


It’s been years or maybe decades, and suddenly you’re face-to-face with the one who dealt misery into your life.


What would you do?


Would you come undone with feelings of bitterness and anger? Stand locked in fear as you relived those terrible events? Or would the weight of their wrongdoing reduce you to overwhelming tears?


Or could you stand on the threshold of that encounter and respond like Joseph?


Recently, I was in this place, and though my first response was bitterness, I soon claimed Joseph’s words in Genesis 50:20 as my own:


“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”


I found the season of this person’s cruelty towards me didn’t matter anymore, nor did it matter when I crossed paths with her again.


What mattered was the space between those two points.


What mattered was how willing I was to have God work her evil for good within me.


Just like Joseph.


Joseph was betrayed by his eleven brothers, sold into slavery, accused of a crime he didn’t commit, and spent two years in prison for it. He had every reason to spend his days seething in anger towards his brothers.


But Joseph didn’t let their heartbreaking deeds consume him. Rather, he turned to the Lord and God worked all those things to the good of Joseph who loved him (Romans 8:28). And when the day came for Joseph to see his brothers again, he responded as one who had been shaped by God.


In the depth of a great famine, when his brothers were in need of Joseph’s kindness, Joseph had the ability to reassure his brothers that they, and their families, would be taken care of. He was able to comfort them, and speak kindly towards them (Genesis 50:21).




Because God took their evil, flipped it upside down, and made good of it.


But the important part is that Joseph was willing to have God make it good.


So the hard question is, what have you let God work in you?


When I think back to who I was during those hard years, and who I am now, I can see so much of what God has done – and continues to do. I can look at the one who hurt me and know her life has likely been filled with just as much struggle and strain as mine. I can understand and express compassion because God showed compassion to me in my own wickedness, and I can offer forgiveness because Christ has forgiven me.


And the gem is her abuse no longer has power over me. God took all her evil and turned it to good.


When we turn to the Lord and hand over the offenses, misdeeds, and wrongdoings done to us, he will crown us with  beauty instead of ashes (Isaiah 61:3), we will grow in the steadfastness of our faith (James 1:2-3), and we can be sure that no weapon fashioned against us will ever truly succeed (Isaiah 54:17).


I know you’ve been hurt. Their actions are inexcusable and maybe beyond your capability to forgive, but I urge you to have the last say. Let God work in you his love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23), so the power of their harm will ease, and you can one day stand before them and say, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”


How has God turned evil for good in your life?


For when you’re hurting:


Psalm 13:1-6 ESV


How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?


Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,

lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.


But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

2 Replies

  1. Carole Bode

    Dear Raye,
    Everyone has or will experience the burning sting of betrayal from a loved one. For me, it has occurred during a spiritually or physically challenging time in my life: when everything goes awry.
    Thank you for the appropriate scriptures, and since the enemy knows just when to fling those flaming darts, I’d like to add Ephesians 6: Be equipped with God’s powerful armor!!
    Many blessings, my dear, for the reminder to clothe ourselves with God’s powerful protection which is His word 🙂

    1. Raye Wortel

      Betrayal and wrongdoing can come at all times in our life, but it’s especially hard when we’re already struggling physically, emotionally or spiritually. Knowing God will take that junk and work it for our good, spurs us to keep holding on. Ephesians 6 is a wonderful reminder of his protection and provision. Thank you for commenting Carole.

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