“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” -Genesis 50:20, NLT
This verse is Joseph speaking to his fearful brothers after the death of their father. These are the same brothers who almost murdered him and sold him into slavery. By the time of this quote, the table had turned and Joseph now had power over their lives plus the lives of their families. They had good reason to be scared.
Instead, Joseph chooses to see God’s providential hand in bringing him to Egypt even though that was via the wicked deeds of his brothers. He did not hold a grudge but chose to protect and save his family including his dastardly brothers.
Now, I want to point something out that often is missed in the retelling of Joseph’s story in forgiving his brothers. He did not exactly forgive them immediately. Joseph put them through true torment!
Often that fact is missed as the story is condensed for us today.
Just consider all the events that transpire in chapters 42 through 44 before Joseph reveals himself to his brothers:
Calling them spies and demanding they come back with Benjamin. Then returning their money to make them look even worse. Finally, setting it up so that Benjamin looks like a thief with the specter that they may have to leave him there in Egypt!
I would say that is not exactly a quick, all-is-fine sort of forgiveness. In fact, I suspect if a faithful spouse messed with his/her cheating spouse like Joseph did his brother that the pastor would call him/her unforgiving and cruel. Context matters.
Finally, Joseph does not call what his brothers did good.
It was not good. They had intended to hurt him. Arguably, they did hurt him. Think of all the years he lost separated from his father and beloved younger brother.
No. Joseph points to the fact that God redeemed his brothers’ wickedness.
I do not consider what my ex-wife did good. But…
God took her adultery and sinful divorce of me turned it into something beautiful. He redeemed it. God opened the door to further ministry here on Divorce Minister, refined me into the professional chaplain that I am today, and brought two very important ladies into my life–Mrs. DM and Munchkin.
As I drive home after bringing my daughter to her swim lessons, I am reminded of God’s goodness. I thought all was lost in August 2012. My heart was broken and raped. I could not see anything good coming out of such darkness…but it did.
My heart is full of joy and laughter. I cannot imagine my life without Mrs. DM–my friend, lover, and true life partner–nor without Munchkin–my spunky little giggle ball of joy.
Just because you do not see what God is going to do with your dark chapter does not mean the story is over for you…take hope from Joseph’s story and mine….
God writes some of the best stuff with some of the darkest of chapters.
He is the Redeemer!