An old coffee mug could sit comfortably on your desk as a container for pens and pencils. You could paint used soup cans and reuse them as miniature flower pots. That worn-out wooden ladder in your shed could be fastened horizontally to the wall as a small bookshelf. There are hundreds of household items that can be recycled for a new purpose. The landfill doesn’t have to be their final home.
Using something for a purpose other than its original intended use is called repurposing or “upcycling.” This creative hobby generates joy for DIY enthusiasts, as well as growing viewership for handyman television shows where the host(s) specialize in finding new uses for old junk. But although repurposing has enjoyed much interest recently, there is only One who has been giving new purpose to seemingly purposeless things since the beginning of time: God. In His divine providence, the sovereign Lord uses things you would never think of to accomplish His good purposes.
The Bible is replete with “repurposing” stories where God used seemingly inconsequential, meaningless, or even evil things to fulfill His indestructible plan of redemption. Joseph never would have ruled in Egypt if the Midianite traders hadn’t discovered him in the pit his brothers tossed him into (Genesis 37:28). If Moses’ mother had not sent him downstream in a basket on the Nile, where he was found by Pharaoh’s daughter, he would never have led the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 2:1-10). Ruth would never have met and married Boaz in his barley fields if she hadn’t gone there to help Naomi survive the famine (Ruth 1:22). Mary and Joseph only went to Bethlehem, the prophesied birthplace of the Messiah, because of Caesar’s simple decree to pay taxes (Luke 2:1-3). The Samaritan woman encountered and was transformed by Jesus because she went out to draw water (John 4:7). And none of us would possess the gift of salvation were it not for an ugly crucifix planted atop Golgotha’s hill (John 19:17).
God gave a new purpose to a pit, a basket, a field, a decree, a water pail, and a Roman cross. The Scripture is unequivocally clear: God specializes in repurposing. That’s why Paul wrote, “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). Because of God’s providence, there is always purpose in your pain, meaning in the mundane, and significance in your strain. Hope in the Lord to repurpose all things in your life for good and His glory. Or as Solomon counseled, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).