“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…So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God…Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done…” Gen. 45:5, 8, 19
I am so thankful this morning that we have a God who masters over evil. I am comforted by the truth that everything in our lives…the pain of death…the betrayal of friends or family…the suffering of our hearts…must be filtered through the hands of God before it touches us. If it flows into our life, it flowed out of God’s hands. Joseph understood this with all of his heart. He went from being a spoiled brat baiting his brothers in a constant ‘I’m their favorite child’ game to a throwaway family member. His own brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites to get rid of him once and for all. Some would say they were justified in their actions and Joseph had it coming. Others would say that the brothers didn’t administer the care and forgiveness that is warranted within family. It doesn’t matter who was at fault, at the end of the day Joseph understood the principle that all things came to him through God…both for his good and the good of those around him. The very words from his lips are words that we should speak daily, ‘Am I in the place of God?’
Sometimes in life we are Joseph who probably deserves the circumstances for which we find ourselves, while other times we find ourselves punishing those we care about out of a selfish sense of entitlement. The difference will be in our prospective and the attitude of our hearts. When we sincerely apply the concept that anything God allows to flow into our lives is for the good of the total picture, we begin to see blessings walking alongside pain. We sense the powerful tug of conviction to forgive teaching us to have a heart like Christ. We are called to be merciful to those who have betrayed and wounded us to experience the rejection Christ experienced. How can we learn to forgive if we have never been betrayed? How can we learn to comfort others if our hearts have never been broken? How can we extend mercy if we have never experienced shame and been given a second chance? These are the things that God allows so that we can grow in the character of Christ and extend to others what we have been given. What we receive we are to extend and what we experience we are to see it as God going before us to accomplish mighty things for Him.