Guest Blog by Shay Wise
In our current world of divisive politics, riots, terror, and plagues, it’s often difficult to believe that all things will come to good for those who know the Lord. Even events that don’t come from God, or people who don’t know Him, God uses according to His plan and purpose. For those who remember from an earlier blog post that I made, I spoke about how our God is not out to punish us or make us miserable. Bad things happen because we live in a cursed and fallen world where evil is a real thing. But that doesn’t mean that people, even those who don’t believe in or outright hate God, can’t be used as part of His plan. The same goes for sickness and plagues. God doesn’t want to harm or punish us, but He does need to prune us the same way we would tend to a tree or bush to ensure our health and growth.
Commonly, while discussing theology and faith, or politics and current events, I come across the argument that Christians need to reject politics entirely or denounce any political leader who isn’t themselves a Christian. I don’t want to be naming any names here, so I will only speak of political leaders in general as this is a non-partisan piece designed merely to offer my opinion and advice. My friends often tell me that I can’t vote for either person running for office if neither of them is a Christian, or that it is only choosing between two different evils which to them means we should withhold a vote. As Christians, we often receive the question, “How can we follow leaders who themselves aren’t Christian?” God gives us examples throughout the Bible, where the Hebrew people and Christians do precisely that.
Surely, you’ve worked in a job where your immediate supervisor was a good and knowledgeable leader, and you didn’t know what their faith was or if they even had one. But if one is working in, say, veterinary science, it wouldn’t matter the doctor’s faith so long as the person was competent in the field and excelled at the work needed. If your boss is a fair person, able to make critical decisions where it mattered, cared about the team, and avoided the pitfalls of corruption – does it matter to what faith your boss subscribes? Or are you thankful to have a good leader and pray that God continues to bless you with people you can trust? I have worked in the field of corrections, my coworkers and fellow team members did not care what I believed so far as Faith, they cared that when they were in danger that I would forget about doing paperwork and jump in to assist them.
All Things Turn to Good
In his text, “Why Can’t We Trust God,” Professor Wise provides us with an informative chart that lists some of the apostles, Kings, and other men throughout the Bible whom we often look up to, and who are themselves flawed. David, described as “a man after God’s own heart,” committed murder, committed adultery, and paraded around the city naked to the point that his people thought him insane. Yet, we hold him up as a great example of a man of faith. We need a second chart, one that depicts the gentiles, the enemies of Israel, Kings of foreign lands who fought and enslaved God’s people – those who God chose to use for good and to further His plans.
Consider Joseph, Potiphar, and the Pharaoh.
Potiphar was an Egyptian man, depicted as a high ranking official in charge of protecting the Pharaoh himself. He buys a slave named Joseph. Potiphar, whose name means “he who Ra has given,” certainly is not a believer in the Hebrew God, and he did not purchase Joseph with any intentions of furthering the plans of a deity he didn’t know. Yet, God uses him. Potiphar’s actions ensure that Joseph is where he needs to be. And, in a time when accusations of rape such as his wife made against Joseph would mean immediate execution, still, Potiphar protects him. Potiphar imprisons Joseph, which leads to Joseph’s meeting with the baker and the wine taster and, ultimately, to an introduction to Pharaoh. One man who does not know God, does not care to know God, and has no motivations for advancing any agenda other than that of the Pharaoh, is used by God to do His work. The Pharaoh also is a man who does not know God, and yet God uses him for His good works. We don’t know the Pharaoh’s name, but the Bible tells us his position. He is the emperor of a mighty nation, one whose people believe he is the physical incarnation of Amun Ra, the sun deity. Pharoh suffered from prophetic dreams that none of his priests or counselors could interpret. He is introduced to Joseph and used as a tool to save the Hebrew people from famine and death.
God Uses All Things for Good
For those the love the Lord, God great – He can use anyone and anything to demonstrate his love for His people and protect them. We teach children the story of Daniel in the lion’s den and his friends thrown into the furnace by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. Babylon had recently invaded the Israel’s divided nation, slaughtering the people, casting survivors to the winds, setting them adrift in other countries. It was the practice of Babylon’s leaders to remove people from a conquered nation and assimilate them into its own to destroy the culture and identity of a people. It was Nebuchadnezzar’s intent to ensure the end of the Chosen People of God. Jeremiah himself calls Nebuchadnezzar the “destroyer of nations” (Jeremiah 4:7). Yet, God still used Nebuchadnezzar for good works.
After God protected Daniel’s friends from the furnace, Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the Hebrew God, and this action allowed the protection of their culture and identity. Nebuchadnezzar still made mistakes, he still did not wholeheartedly believe in God as the one and true deity, but he did allow the continued worship and practice of their culture. After Nebuchadnezzar comes Balthazar, and then Darius. Each of the Kings was eventually forced to humble himself before God or lose his Kingdom when he does not. Darius, who also does not know God, still recognizes Daniel for what he is, an honest and smart individual who can advise him in his rule. When God protects Daniel from unjust punishment and death, Darius also declares that Yahweh is the true God who rules forever, and again the Hebrew people and culture are protected.
Recently I met with a group of friends. Inevitably the subject of recent events was brought up, and the discussion turned that way. One person talked about how they see videos all over social media that depict riots, of people beaten and injured, of the messes left behind in the cities where events are taking place, and how they struggle with forgiveness for people who can so horribly hurt each other. God tells us to pray for our enemies, whether those enemies have personally hurt us, hurt our friends, our family, or even hurt our nation. We gain nothing by praying for our enemies to suffer but gain everything by praying for softened hearts and open minds. Remember that whether we agree with riots, protests, political movements, or our political leaders that we have nothing at all to gain by praying for them to fail, but everything to gain by praying for understanding and deliverance. Even people who seem irredeemable can be used by God for His works and His people.