In my devotions today I read the story of Joseph and his brothers. It’s probably safe to say there was a certain degree of dysfunction in this family that makes me feel better about my own…! Sure, we’ve got our problems, but really nothing on this level. That’s one of the things I really love about the Bible. It never hides the dysfunction or puts on pretense. The Bible exposes our weaknesses and failings and shows how God redeems all of these for His good purposes.
Genesis 45:4–7 "So Joseph said to his brothers, "Come near to me, please." And they came near. And he said, "I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors."
Joseph had suffered greatly at the hands of his brothers. He knew what it was to be betrayed and suffer, both physically and soulically. It’s interesting that he doesn’t pretend to not be wounded but sees God’s redemption in the abuse and betrayal. For some of us the wounds of this life are very clear, but others have trouble recognizing what their wounds might be. If you wonder how you’ve been wounded it might help to look at how you are wounding people. Take some time to be quiet before the Lord and ask Him to show you the hurt and pain of living in a fallen world. Joseph was in a position to exact his revenge because he was in power and they were weak and vulnerable. Look back at the passage and you’ll notice that, instead of screaming and yelling, Joseph wept when reunited with his abusers. He saw the hand of God with him - even in his abuse, suffering and rejection and this was powerful and transforming. When working through some of the issues in my life resulting from my abuse I asked the Lord where He was when I was being violated. He gave me the most beautiful picture of how He was right there, being abused with me.
Genesis 50:20 "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today."
Joseph didn’t call what his brothers did a good thing. He didn’t pretend it was not a big deal nor that he was unaffected by their betrayal. His life had been painful because of their actions. However, he chose to forgive his brothers and see God redeem their evil for good. He said, "God sent me before you to preserve life." He saw, in the midst of pain and even the evil actions of others, God working in a powerful way to preserve lives. Joseph’s forgiveness wasn’t passive and I hope I would be as forgiving as he was. He took care of his brothers for the rest of his life.
We live in a fallen and broken world, created for a perfect garden environment. People do evil to us and we have to make a choice to see how our Abba wants to use it for good in our lives. If we fail to forgive and swallow the pill of bitterness it only destroys us. What pains are in your life? If you can’t think of anything are you willing to ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you’re hurting others? Take time to grieve your loss, forgive as you’ve been forgiven and be willing to be the conduit of God’s life.
Romans 8:28 "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
God redeems all things for our good. Don’t let the evil intentions of others destroy you or rob you of your birthright as the beloved of God. You are God’s precious child and He’s using all things for your good! Try to remember that at the end of our self-sufficiency and in our desperation we meet Jesus and discover that Jesus alone is more than enough.