Perhaps the perennial problem for theism is the Problem of Evil. While this problem comes in a variety of formulations, the basic ideas is that God could not have morally justifiable reasons for allowing the evil and suffering present in the world. Often, reference is made the quantity of evil (why this much?), the quality of evil (why this sort?), and the gratuity of evil (what’s the meaning?). It is really this last one, I think, with which people must wrestle.
We see the ultimate answer to the problem of evil in our text for today. Joseph says that the evil act of his brothers to sell him into slavery was actually God providentially providing for a better future. Think of the misery throughout Joseph’s life from the betrayal itself to years in prison. Yet, in this moment, he could honestly share with his brother that their evil has been redeemed by God to provide goodness to many.
Are we able to give such a bold answer in the face of the evil and suffering we’ve experienced? We have a major advantage Joseph did not: we are on this side of the resurrection of Jesus. Because of Jesus’ resurrection, we can trust in God’s ultimate goodness even if in-the-moment we cannot see purpose or goodness in it.
I encourage you to study the Problem of Evil further. Each generation needs to answer it for itself; and the believer needs to answer it for her/himself as well. Here are some helpful resources: