December 27 I Thursday
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” —Genesis 50:20
We might think of our solar system, our galaxy and the universe as different levels of how God’s ways are higher than our ways. Few Bible stories show this more clearly than Joseph’s. Joseph was the eleventh of 12 sons, despised by his brothers because of their father Jacob’s favouritism towards him. After Jacob made Joseph a special coat and Joseph dreamed of his family bowing to him, his brothers had enough. They sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt, telling their father that Joseph had been killed. But God was with Joseph. He was sold to a man named Potiphar, who became impressed with Joseph and put him in charge of all his household.
Potiphar’s wife was also impressed with Joseph. She tried to seduce him, but when Joseph ran, Mrs. Potiphar lied and said he tried to rape her. Potiphar then had Joseph thrown into prison for 13 years. He was finally released after God gave him the interpretation of two of Pharaoh’s dreams. These dreams were warnings that seven years of plenty in Egypt would be followed by seven years of terrible famine. Joseph suggested putting a wise and discerning man in charge of the land of Egypt who would be responsible for gathering food during the years of plenty, and Pharaoh selected Joseph. Now second-in-command over all Egypt, what a change from his previous suffering!
Two years into the famine, Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt looking for food. Joseph tested them for a time, but he eventually revealed himself, saying, “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you” (Genesis 45:5). This does not excuse Joseph’s brothers for their evil actions, but God worked through Joseph’s 22 years in Egypt to bring about great good. On a solar system level, Joseph’s work saved thousands of lives. On a galactic level, God brought Joseph’s entire family to Egypt to begin forming them into the nation of Israel. And on a universal level, God was laying the groundwork for the salvation of the world that would come centuries later through Christ, a descendant of one of Joseph’s brothers.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, a nineteenth-century American philosopher, said something like this, “Believe what the years and the centuries say against what the hours and minutes say.” The minutes and hours tell us things are uncertain, but the years and centuries tell us that a sovereign God is working and that we belong to an unshakeable kingdom. Though others might mean evil for us, we can find reassurance that even in our trials, God is working out good through our lives on a universal level.
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, I cannot imagine all the ways You are working through my circumstances to bring about Your will. Thank You that even in trials, Your purposes are always good.