I am sure it has happened to you before. You are reading through a familiar passage and something hits you that you never pay much attention to before. It’s nothing really groundbreaking, just something you hadn’t given much consideration before.
I was reading through a familiar part of Daniel the other day, and I noticed that because of the faith of the Israelites, foreign kings proclaimed God as the one true God. It dawned on me that God was able to use the Israelites rebellion to make Himself known in Babylon. Though Daniel and his friend were taken captive as punishment for the nations disobedience, God could use that sad circumstance to further His Kingdom. God gave Daniel interpretation of dreams, and saved him from a den of lions; He also rescued Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fiery furnace. All of these stories ended with God being praised by a non-Israelite ruler.
It should not come as a surprise that God works good out of bad situations. God is the master at using what we see as tragedy for His purpose and glory. We often think of God working everything for our good (Romans 8:28), but as we focus on our own lives, we sometimes forget that He is working His master plan for the whole world.
For Daniel and his friends, their circumstances looked bleak, but God was ready to act. I am sure the events of the lion’s den and the furnace had an affect on their lives – how could you ever doubt God after living through those experiences – but they may have had an even bigger impact on those who witnessed the events. For the captives, it was a confirmation of their faith, and for the locals, it was an awesome display of God’s power and love – one that they may not have known if not for Israel’s adversity.
In our fallen universe, bad things happen. Some of them are caused by our own choices and others are random acts that we, at least as individuals, can’t prevent. Sometimes, we can connect the dots and understand the tragedy, and other times, we are at a loss as we try to make any semblance of sense.
I am the type of person who tries to make sense out of everything, to understand why things happen and what good can come out of them. I believe that everything happens for a reason, or maybe I should rephrase that: I believe that everything that happens can be used by God for His purpose. It may not make sense at the time, or even ever; we don’t always see how God is working. God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). He may have a different path than we would have plotted, but in the end, He is working as only He knows how.