But as for you, ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good to bring to pass as it is this day, to save many people alive. - Genesis 50:20 This scripture speaks of Joseph’s horrifying time in the ‘hole’, and his remarkable rise to fame.
Think about it; you are 17, and all the older boys you thought were a part of your family concoct the most hideous lie on your father, telling him the son he loved the most, his firstborn to his angel, the son who understood all the God stories dad told, had been eaten by wild animals.
Then a caravan of strangers comes along and all of a sudden you are one of them. I remember some friends who went to High School for the first time, scared stiff. They were ‘someone' at Primary School, but now they are nobody. You would feel the same. On the way to Egypt, these people whose language you barely understand are friendly but not your own family. Your mind is forever in the past and the future, but not the present. You long for the family and worry about what's coming. Over the next thirteen years, Joseph did some jail time, got called a molester by Pharaoh’s wife, but eventually became Egypt’s Prime Minister as history mentions, doing exactly what Daniel did years later — deciphering dreams. He "saved many people alive." What was his dad, Jacob, doing all this time? Getting over the agony of his ever-departed loves.
Can you imagine the grief and the deep heart pain and anguish? He lost the love of his life, Rachel, just a few years back; the woman for which he worked fourteen years as if it were a day died giving birth to their second child, Benjamin, on the road to Bethlehem, and now the pride of that relationship, the firstborn, Joseph, has been brutally slain (so he was told). Many a night, Jacob would have cried himself to sleep while hugging Joseph’s torn coat of many colours handed to him by the other sons, which now had the added colour of blood. If you were Jacob, would you wonder where God was through it all? What about Joseph’s dreams? What about all the hopes Jacob had for his righteous, God-loving son? What about the other sons' regret when they saw the extent of their father’s suffering.
For thirteen years they kept that secret safe. If a group of ten bank robbers made a great heist, they wouldn't be able to keep it a secret for that long. Not even Benjamin got a whiff of it while hanging around this rat pack. I think the brothers were either in fear or shame to be able to remain silent for so long. Imagine the embarrassment when Joseph finally revealed himself, the past forgiven? The family had to go through all this trauma because of some jealousy. Scripture says, “Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who can stand before envy?” (Proverbs 27:4). Wrath, anger and envy all seemed to be a part of the ten-son deal. When we concoct deceit, it is easy to hurt those we love because we rarely think past our own needs. With all this drama and hurt, scripture states that “…God meant it unto good…” Our natural minds can’t comprehend how God could stand by and watch it all while setting up something in the future. Yet, this is a perfect picture of how our view is so small compared to God’s. It also depicts why our prayers to remove the pain we are going through sometimes don’t get answered how we want. God has bigger plans. He didn't say he will rescue us from all trouble but does say he will go through it with us. This is why! The Apostle Paul had to get shipwrecked along with all the others on the ship, yet he was a believer. God didn't set him aside to remove him from the pain in the journey. Neither did He stop the asp from biting him. God had plans of it being a great and wondrous witness, and Paul’s suffering was the part he would play in it, being the human element. Daniel had to go into the Lion's Den before God revealed His plan, as did the three men in the fire. Their decisions to abandon life and follow God had to be made before the revelations came. Joseph had to go through the pain of loneliness and abandonment, prison and lies, before God revealed His plan “…to save many people alive.” We might have to go through pain and suffering ourselves without seemingly getting answers from God. The aforementioned life stories show us clearly not to give up in the middle of it all, as it may be far too early. What if Paul dived overboard? The captain, crew and others would have died. What if Joseph had escaped from the caravan and ran away to home? His entire family and most of Egypt would have perished in the upcoming famine. Both these hardships were depictions of Christ — believers going through suffering for other believers and unbelievers. These stories show me that we go on praising and thanking God through our trials, as our view is about as broad as looking up out of Joseph’s pit, while God can see the entire landscape. Today’s prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for the depth of these stories, as they show me how selfish I am sometimes and lack understanding of your greater purpose. Please help me in my next big trial to stand back and try and see a bigger picture, and to have faith to go through it quietly with minimal unbelief.