Daily Readings: Genesis 41-46
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 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. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”
“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.”
I absolutely the love the climax of the Joseph story that we read in Genesis today. I try to put myself in Joseph’s shoes and imagine how I would respond when my brothers show up all of those years later. It would be incredibly easy to be angry, resentful, and bitter towards the people that first tried to kill you and then sold you into slavery. These were the brothers that turned your life upside down for 13 years. How natural would it be to want to return the favor and use your current position of power to throw them into prison? How easy would it be to have the posture of your heart be, “You tried to harm me, but look at what I have accomplished in spite of your best efforts!” and be puffed up with pride and arrogance?
Instead Joseph wept. Joseph forgave instantly. Joseph gave all of the glory to God.
“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.”
Joseph was sent ahead to save lives.
In our own lives, there are many challenges that we are faced with. There are many circumstances we endure throughout the course of our lives that naturally have the opportunity to cause anger, frustration, heartache, and bitterness; towards other people and towards God. In these moments, do we respond like Joseph?
At two months old, after a twelve-day hospital stay, my youngest daughter was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and we embarked on a year of chemotherapy. It was a heartbreaking ordeal, but one of the very first conversations my wife and I had after receiving the diagnosis was about how we were going to choose to view this next phase of our journey. We made the decision early on to trust God with Sophie and to trust that he would use our story for his glory if we would allow it. There were still lots of challenges throughout that year, but it was so much more peaceful after turning it over to God.
Since then I have seen time and time again how that set of circumstances have allowed me to minister to others in a way I would not have been able to without them. I have seen God work through Sophie’s cancer to move in a powerful way in other people’s lives.
I don’t know if God caused Sophie’s cancer as a part of his larger story because it had a very specific purpose or whether Sophie went through cancer because we live in a fallen and broken world. There are circumstances in life that fall into both of those categories. Some trials are God ordained and some are a result of the sin in the world, choices that we make, and active attacks by the enemy. However, on one point the Bible is crystal clear.
Regardless of whether those challenges are God ordained, God will redeem those trials in your life and “send you ahead”, just like Joseph, if you are willing.
I look forward to asking God in heaven one day about various challenges I faced and whether he put them there for a purpose or if they were the result of choices I made that were not in line with his will or the result of living in a fallen and broken world. In the meantime, I have found a much greater sense of peace in accepting that I may not know for sure until that day, but that, in this moment, I do have the ability to trust that the God of the universe is going to use those trials to advance his story. I have a much higher degree of peace and thankfulness when asking God to use these challenges to “send me ahead”.
Thought to ponder
What trials have you faced in your own life that God can redeem to send you ahead?