When Joseph explains his story to his brothers, we learn two vital truths about God’s relationship with his children. These are the hardest faith lessons we will ever learn, yet if we can live them, our lives will never be the same and we will see the world in a new light…
4 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! 5 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. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
There are two core truths in Joseph’s story which we can apply in our lives and relationships with God. The first is that God is with us – never leaving nor forsaking us. The second is that God will use any circumstance to work it for good for his children.
These truths are a contrast to our feelings: God has left me and has no plan for me. Some version of this story is common to each of us. We often feel abandoned or without purpose in this world. In the land of microwave ovens, our faith takes a hit when God’s provision and plan are not ready for consumption in less than five minutes. And so we learn from Joseph.
5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”
6 So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”
“Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Try praying that prayer of affirmation today: God, I know you are with me and I know you will never leave me. If my circumstances make it seem like you aren’t there, I will know the truth – you are with me now and always.
And as we believe without doubt that God is with us, we can also believe without doubt that God will take the circumstances of man and turn them out for good for his children:
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
This is what happened with Joseph, and he was able to teach this truth to his brothers. Is it possible for us to do the same with our aggressors – can we tell them without a doubt that we forgive them because we trust in God and his ability to turn our circumstances for good in the long term?
This is harder to affirm, isn’t it? You think it’s easy until you realize that God’s plan in Joseph’s life took 20 years to unfold. He was in his late teens when he was sold, and he reunited with his family when he was 39. This is a test of 21st century patience. And it’s a taste of God’s faithfulness.
God, teach us to have confidence in you, and to keep praying and trusting without ceasing or defeat, as we rely on you to do what you have promised. We understand that ‘good’ is defined by your sovereign will and not ours, and that the timing is yours and yours alone.
These are some of the hardest lessons of faith we have to learn. And they will change our walks with God and our impact on the world when we learn them.