…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good… Genesis 50:20
One of the most beautiful characters in the Old Testament is Joseph—after his refining process. You know the story quite well. Joseph was his father’s proclaimed favorite. Jacob didn’t even bother hiding his preference from his ten other sons. Talk about setting the boy up for disaster. Joseph’s mother was his father’s favorite wife Rachel, and that preference caused grief, not only to stepmother Leah but also to her sons. Dad did them all a disservice. But God…
Joseph’s boasting was a natural characteristic for a boy who’d been singled out and who had been robed in clothing fit for a prince. None of his other siblings even came close to the special attention Joseph received on a daily basis. Poor, clueless Joseph even had the temerity to tell his brothers and his father about his dreams of future greatness. That didn’t sit well…
When the brothers had stood as much as they could, Joseph was sold into bondage. (The original plan was to kill him. But God…) Initially, Joseph obtained the confidence of his master and became the ruler of his household, but a false accusation landed him in prison. There Joseph again was given the trust of the prison’s lord, and he became the chief administrator. Joseph thought he had a chance to escape when he interpreted dreams for the pharaoh’s cup bearer and baker. But they, too, forgot him.
Finally, “in the fullness of time,” after Joseph had experienced fear for his life, loneliness, false accusation, humiliation, all the purging needed for the true gold of his character to shine through, God gave pharaoh a dream that only Joseph could interpret. When the time was right, God brought Joseph out of prison where he acknowledged God’s power and praised him as the one who gave the interpretation of dreams.
Josephs’ decade or so in Egypt made him an overnight success. He saved the country, and he saved the nearby countries including his homeland. When his brothers came to buy grain, he tested them to see if there had been a change since their cruelty to him. The desperate talk they shared among themselves was enough to bring Joseph to tears. He knew that while God was refining him in Egypt, he was also changing the hearts of his brothers in Canaan.
Papa Jacob was able to reunite with his lost son, and the family was restored. Almost. When Jacob died, the brothers humbly and subserviently came to Joseph hoping for their father’s sake that he would be merciful to them. We hear Joseph’s renewed heart as he weeps with his brothers, “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” God took all the grief and heartache that Joseph had experienced and stripped away the pride and egotism, all the self-orientation that had clouded his vision and made Joseph his man for his purpose.
And they all lived happily ever after.
Father, even as we weep over the griefs in our lives, cause us to trust you to use all these things for your purposes and for good. Help us to release the sorrow so that you can transform it for your purposes. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.