Today's Reading: Genesis 50:15-21
But Joseph said to them, "Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 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." (Genesis 50:19-20)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Where does evil come from? If it comes from God, then God is not good. But if it does not, is He powerless to stop it? This question is why many people refuse to believe. It's a hard question.
In response to these questions, people come up with something known as a theodicy. A theodicy literally means, "a justification of God." They are attempts to explain evil and preserve God's goodness. But theodicies are never really sufficient in dealing with this problem, because they put us in the place of God as the ones who justify.
Joseph certainly saw evil in his life. His brothers despised him because he was the favored son. They conspired to murder him, but at the last moment they sold him into slavery. To cover their actions, they lied to their father that he was mauled by a wild beast. But in spite of this, Joseph rose to power in Egypt and prevented catastrophe by storing food in preparation for a famine.
Joseph had every opportunity to weave a theodicy. He could have said that God had to allow evil in order to cause something good. But Joseph is too good a theologian for that. He knows that a theodicy puts him in the place of God, and it makes God the cause of evil. But he says, "Am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good."
The cause of evil is us. It is our sin. And the devil is behind it all. God allows evil to exist because He allows us to exist. But God causes only good. Even as we introduce evil, God works it for good. This is what St. Paul teaches so beautifully in Romans: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). This is the theology of the cross. It knows that what God does is always good, even when it comes through suffering and crosses. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
What God ordains is always good; His will is just and holy.As He directs my life for me, I follow meek and lowly. My God indeed In ev'ry need Knows well how He will shield me; To Him, then, I will yield me. (What God Ordains Is Always Good, LSB 760:1)