“Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.”—Genesis 50:19-21
These are incredible words from the lips of Joseph. Twenty years earlier, his brothers had sold him as a slave to a caravan on its way to Egypt. With the death of their father, Jacob, these brothers are afraid they will not be fully reconciled to him. They fear that now that their father is dead, Joseph will retaliate against them to “settle the score” in response to the humiliation and pain they inflicted on him so many years earlier.
What makes Joseph’s response so remarkable is that he sees in his injustice the sovereignty of God; his experience in the prison (referred to last week) helped him to see that evil itself can be part of God’s plan. And, although this in no way absolved his brothers of responsibility for their betrayal of him, the fact is that God is greater than the evil that others do to us!
My experience has been that if all that we see is the devil in the evil done against us, we will be led to despair. But, if we remember, to quote Luther, “that even the devil is God’s devil,” we will be able to see that God has a plan for us, and can use evil for His purposes and yes, for our good!
Joseph, therefore, felt free to forgive his brothers, and he even proved his forgiveness by taking care of them!
As we pray for ourselves and others this week, let us pray that we’ll see God in our afflictions, and that we will be able to lay down bitterness. “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble and many become defiled” (Hebrews 15). Note that (1) bitterness has roots and (2) the poison of bitterness affects others.
Let Us Pray
Father, help us like Joseph to see that we must be willing to be reconciled to those who have wronged us. Give us the faith to believe that even evil can be used for good if we are willing to be submit to You, to let go of our bitternesses.
I pray for _______ and ask that he/she might be willing to trust Your grace in the midst of the pain, abuse, insensitivity, and injustice. I pray that he/she would be able to let go of the bitterness and pain and anger. Help them to believe that what others meant for evil, You meant for good. Release them from the negative effects of their past, I pray.
I break Satan’s stronghold of anger, revenge and victimization that is so much a part of our experience. Bring us all to the light of Your grace for our past, and may we move on to a life of freedom, leaving the chains of anger and bitterness in the past.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.