We live in a world that is convinced that life is simply a random series of events. Much of this thought can be tied to the theory of evolution, which states that life itself spontaneously and randomly generated quite on accident. And sense its generation, life has randomly mutated and evolved into the world we live in today. This seemingly random nature of life is enforced by man's own observations, as he sets goals and looks to accomplish them, only to have them radically altered (for better or for worse) along the way.
How many people can honestly testify that the goals and plans they had in life have always worked out exactly as planned? Who has not had a curve ball thrown their way? Who has not set out to accomplish one thing, only to have something else entirely "random" happen, which forced them to adjust their goals?
Think of the high-school or college athlete, who has an amazing talent and ability, one that may make a champion out of them one day. Yet while driving down the road one day, they suddenly get into a car accident that renders them disabled, and smashes all the hopes and dreams they have of stardom and making it big in the pros. Or, in a more positive light, think of the man in the 1800's, while traveling through California, simply was digging in the dirt and struck gold. Such a random thing was something he probably never set out to do, yet this random "luck" came his way.
Recently, God has reminded me, however, that to look at life in such a random way is contrary to the Biblical perspective. Such a secular outlook is contrary to the Divine outlook. Indeed, by assigning "randomness" to life, we attempt to rob God of His sovereign power and rule of creation. Our God is the Alpha and Omega, who declares the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). There is absolutely nothing that happens in this world by chance, and there is absolutely nothing in this world that happens without God being intimately involved, and as a result, there is absolutely nothing that happens in this world that is somehow devoid of purpose.
The apostle Paul says, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God." (Romans 8:28) We should be encouraged by this. Far from life being a random series of disconnected accidents, God causes all events "to work together." There is a "together" quality about seemingly random events, that God ties together, ultimately for our own good. Life may be beyond our own control, but because God is sovereign, we can be assured that it is within His own control.
Such is ultimately what we learn from the life of Joseph. In Genesis we read how God gave Joseph a dream about his own destiny. Yet, life happened, and everything seemed to move Joseph away from fulfilling his reason for being. Life was not easy on Joseph in his path to greatness. Indeed, immediately after his dream, his own brothers in jealously trapped him and sold him into slavery. When things were starting to look better for him, Joseph ended up in jail. Only after rotting in jail for a long time was Joseph released and moved into the place where he could fulfill his purpose. Finally, as we all know, Joseph and his brothers met up again. And instead of being hateful and bitter towards his brothers, Joseph was able to deal kindly and gently with them. For in all the tragedies of his life, Joseph declared that what was meant for evil by others, God meant for good.
Joseph knew through all his seemingly "bad luck", God was with Him through it all. Oh, such might cause many to reason about the philosophical ramifications of such things. Was God the author of all these bad things? Or was it the devil? How does free will play into all this? Interestingly enough, while we might attempt to abstractly answer such great questions, and do so reasonably based on other verses in the Bible, I don't believe the Scriptures ever set out to give us a definitive answer to such idle speculation.
Rather, far from seeking to give clear cut answers to these questions, I believe the Scriptures want to create faith in us, so that we might see that whatever situation we might find ourselves in, and no matter what surprises may come our way, that God is in control through it all. Nothing happens by chance. There are no odds. Rather, all things are the working out of God's predetermined will, which He purposed before the foundations of the world.