Reformation Lutheran Church A Congregation of the ELCA

Saturday, March 4

Still Wondering

“Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good…” Genesis 50:20a.

Those are the words Joseph spoke to his brothers when they appeared in fear before him in Egypt, many years after they had sold him into slavery. Quite honestly, they are words that have haunted me ever since my seminary days. My professor posited that God may have had a hand in the selling of Joseph in order to use him to accomplish God’s plan to save many people.

I have steadfastly resisted the idea that God may cause harm in order to do ultimate good. I have preferred to believe that, when bad things happen, God can and often does create good in the wake of those bad things. I have refused to believe that God could have a hand in something that I perceive as bad or evil. Maybe I am wrong.

I heard this story recently. A mother took her young son to the dentist, and it was discovered that he had a cavity needing to be filled. In the course of that treatment, her son experienced some pain and, from the boy’s perspective, pain was the only outcome of the visit. Of course, his mother and the dentist knew good would eventually come from it.

I experienced many very successful years in the insurance industry and saw no circumstances under which I might leave that industry or Wichita. Then one day in 1999 I lost my job, and life went from great to not so good. It was a devastating moment for me and, for the first time ever, I had no reason to remain in Wichita. So in 2000 I moved to Montana to be near my aging parents. I took a low paying job and also worked a second job to help my son with college expenses. Thankfully, I was able to spend much meaningful time with my parents before their deaths.

That was, in fact, a pretty good outcome for a bad situation, but it got so much better. You see, it was while in Montana that I strongly felt God’s call to ministry. Through a number of God-and- angels-in-disguise events, I entered a seminary program meant for mature adults in 2004, and the rest, as they say, is history. In a matter of four years I went from one of the lowest points in my life to one of the very best - one that I did not even think was a remote possibility. The blessings that I have received through ministry are immeasurable, and it all started with losing my job.

And so I wonder, did God have a hand in my job loss or did God take my bad experience and create a new and wonderful experience? What do you think?

Rev. Cheryl Hoops (retired)

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