October 9, 2011: But God Intended it for Good…

Let us pray: Dear Savior, today re-remind us that “all things really do work for good to those who love God.” Whatever trials, whatever troubles, whatever upset comes our way in this life, don’t let us forget that You always use Satan’s scheming against him and turn it into a benefit for Your children. All this because You love us more than life itself. Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST WHO IS OUR NEVER-FAILING ROCK

TEXT: Genesis 50: 15-21

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

The past few days have been the worst days of my life. You see my mother in Mn has suffered a massive stroke that has left her incapacitated. According to her legal wishes my family was standing by waiting for her to die and enter glory, but now she has rallied a bit and perhaps long term nursing care will be her future. Either way, I am the point person to make sure her last wishes are carried out by her doctor. I feel inadequate to the task. I’ve been second-guessing myself every day as her condition goes up and down. Her stroke was her worst fear and my having to make the hard decisions of life for her was my worst fear. So, I guess you’d say Mother and I are in this together.

But, of course, we also have someone else in this equation. That Someone is: Jesus Christ. Like most people, I, too, inwardly question God’s timing of all this, the twists and turns it has taken, and also ask: “Why, Lord?” I don’t have answers yet to any of these questions. I’ve been walking by faith alone, and very little sight. But, down deep I know that God has a special plan for her and that He will and is using all this for an unseen, greater purpose. Right now, my prayer is: Lord, thy will be done. Meanwhile, I must wait and trust.

Into this emotional mix comes this little gem of a text. It provides me with solace and it should provide you with some comforting answers too, as we all grapple with life’s hard decisions. I especially want to focus on Joseph’s words to his brothers:

BUT GOD INTENDED IT FOR GOOD….

I

Most of you know the story of Joseph, but a quick review is always good. He was the favored, spoiled son of his father, Jacob. His older brothers grew very jealous of him and when he was a teen, sold him into slavery. He ended up in Egypt, a slave in Potiphar’s house. After being unjustly accused of sexual assault by Potiphar’s wife, Joseph ended up in prison for the next few years. Then, after foretelling a dream correctly, eventually he was asked to foretell the meaning of Pharoah’s dream about the 7 lean and 7 fatted cows. You know the rest. There would be 7 very good years, followed by 7 years of area-wide famine. Pharoah ended up putting Joseph in charge of Egypt’s affairs in order to get ready for the famine. He became the 2nd most powerful man in the country. When the famine struck, eventually his brothers back in Palestine came to buy food. After a few twists and turns, he revealed himself to them and later to his father, Jacob, who still lived. But now Jacob, who is living in Egypt along with the brothers and their extended family, has died. The brothers feel very guilty over their sins against Joseph 25 years before. Now they believe revenge and retribution will be exacted. Why did they feel this way? After all, Joseph had been nothing but kind to them in the years following their reunion. Well, these brothers knew their own evil hearts and what those hearts had done to Joseph and so they were judging themselves accordingly.

“What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for the wrongs we did to him?’ So they sent word to Joseph, saying, ‘Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your Father.’ When their message came to him, Joseph wept.”

II

Remember when Jesus wept over the rejection of Him by Jerusalem? Yet, He went to the cross to die for those ingrates, anyway. Joseph is a type of Christ here. And when we forgive others from our hearts we mirror Christ, don’t we?

Eventually the brothers come, still with a sense of foreboding, and throwing themselves before their powerful brother declare: “We are your slaves.” Yet the kind-hearted Joseph will have none of it. He’s let go of the past and wants them to, as well. Forgiveness is the only way to truly do that, forgiveness born by faith in the sacrifice of God’s Son for us. So, he replies: “Don’t be afraid. 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, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”

This is an action prophecy. By the actions of what takes place, God is laying out in advance how He would treat His people in and through Jesus Christ. He would forgive our sins and remember them no more. He would come and take away our fears—yes even the fears of death by rising from our grave. He would always provide for His children on this earth, never giving them more heaviness in life than they could carry on the back of their faith. And both spiritual and physical blessings would come their way, even when they least expected them.

So, this section of Scripture has comforted me this week as I struggle with the long good-bye in the wake of my mom’s stroke. I’m a child of God. All the truths here apply to me, too. Thus, when I hear those words: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” God’s hidden hand is just that: hidden. He might be allowing my mom to live a bit longer here, not for her sake, but for someone else’s. Maybe her situation is a way to save a soul? I don’t really know. But, I do know: “All things work for good to those who love God” because God’s Word says so. That’s my comfort right now. After today, I hope it’s yours, too. Amen