Genesis 50:19-20 19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
I actually wrote another thought (Good from bad…) from this same passage in in Week 14. However, there are so many practical lessons from Joseph’s life and particularly his attitude in this passage.
I find myself being the opposite of Joseph in so many situations. When I am criticized, or left out, or not chosen for something I was expecting, or even when I am rejected, I tend to become defensive, unforgiving, and bitter. When bad things begin to happen, I begin to question my life and decisions. I begin to play the victim of life situations. As I grow older, I hope that I am learning better to be like Joseph and look underneath the negative to see what God is doing.
Many times in my life people can say things that seem cold-hearted, insensitive, critical, hateful, etc. For so much of my life I would take this so personally. I would become defensive and bitter. In fact, I would at times even become vindictive. This passage sends a convicting message to me around this sort of reaction. Over the last few years I have begun to look differently at these negative messages that I perceive were, or are aimed at me.
What have I learned from Joseph? First of all, I learned that what may be intended as evil toward me may still be used by God to put me in a position to do His work. Joseph’s brothers wanted to kill him. They sent him away thinking they would never see him again. Other unfortunate things still happened to Joseph, yet God used it all to set Joseph in a place to save a nation. People may intend harm for me, yet God can use that to His purpose. At times, I may see what good thing God has made out of the situation. Other times, those things are yet to come. Faith allows me to keep going.
Secondly, no matter what the intention or how a message is delivered, God may still be speaking through the situation. I believe that Joseph truly was gifted. However, as a young man, he might have been a touch immature with his use of his abilities. God used some harsh dealings by Joseph’s brothers to grow Joseph up a bit. There are times in my life where someone has not handled me the way I would like to be handled, yet God is still speaking to me through them. What I am beginning to attempt to ask is, “What is God saying to me in this situation?” I must discover what I need to learn from this. The person dealing with me may very well be wrong, but God still can be teaching me something from this situation.
A third thing that Joseph may have realized was that what his brothers did to him had less to do with him than it did their own jealousy of him. Joseph was younger and more favored. That was their father’s choice. That was painful to the older brothers. Instead of being indignant with dad, they took it out on Joseph. The brothers did not get something they wanted and they blamed Joseph. Many times, what is aimed at me has little to do with me and more to do with what others want and are not getting for themselves. I end up becoming their target for their discomfort. When I am able to see this, I can dismiss any negative message I might believe about my character.
If I am able to put these three things in perspective, then it allows me to have a Joseph like attitude. I can see that God had bigger plans and used my situation to get me ready for those plans. I am also better at letting go of bitterness and forgive those who have been harsh. What may be intended for harm, God uses for His purpose.
1. How have you been able to relate to Joseph’s story?
2. Where have you seen things intended for harm turn out to be something good in the Kingdom of God?
3. Where recently has someone handled you in an improper way, yet God was still speaking through the situation?
4. Describe a situation in your life where you may want to drop bitterness realizing that what was aimed at you was less about you and more about the person blaming you?
5. Spend some time this week in reflection. Look back and see where you ended up doing good work for God out of a bad situation. Thank God for how it turned out.
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