Sunday, January 20, 2008

You Meant it for evil, God meant it for good

In Genesis 50:20 Joseph's brothers are afraid that now that their father Jacob is dead, Joseph will now come after them and get revenge for what they did to him. They, of course, sold him into slavery and left him for dead. Speaking to their fear, Joseph tells them "you meant it for evil but God meant it for good". In a sentence he puts the past behind and faces the future.

A common struggle for most of us is letting the past go and moving into the future. Joseph could have made his brothers suffer (and he does play with them a little bit in Genesis 40 and following); he could have carried the same arrogant anger that he had when he was 17 (see Genesis 37) when he told his brothers about his dreams of supremacy. After they sold him into slavery he could have carried that bitterness, pain, sorrow and loss all the way to his (and their) graves. But 23 years has changed him. Twenty-three years of over coming adversity has formed and shaped him into a very different man.

How often do we need to surrender the spectres of the past and move into the future? I wonder how often do I carry the hurts, pains and struggles of decades, years, months, weeks even days forward with me and never let them go?

I will know I have arrived at a new place when I can bless the name of the Lord and praise God for the good days as well as the bad as I learn that God uses both to form and shape me into the kind of person I need to be.

They meant it for Evil; God used it for good. Romans 8:28 "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose (NRSV)."

bj