Joseph Sees the Greater Purpose
“You intended to harm me,” Joseph explained, “but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” ( Genesis 50:20 NIV).
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Joseph was a man who had many bad things happen in his life. His story is recorded in Genesis chapters 37-50. While he was his father’s favorite son, he was his brothers’ least favorite sibling. Because their dad, Jacob, showed relentless favoritism toward this child of his beloved wife, Rachel, his brothers were jealous, mocking, and spiteful toward him. Naïve Joseph didn’t help matters. He flaunted a special ornamented coat that his father had tailor made just for him, tattled on his brothers for bad behavior, and shared a dream he should have kept to himself.
“Listen to this dream I had,” Joseph said to his brothers. “We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it” (Genesis 27:6-7).
After this revelation, his brothers hated him even more. But the poor boy didn’t catch on and told of yet another dream.
“Listen to this other dream I had,” he said. “The sun, moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” This dream was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
One day his brothers saw an opportunity to get rid of this dreamer once and for all. At first they threw him in a cistern, bloodied his precious coat, and schemed to tell their dad Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. Just as they placed the youngest brother into the cistern, a slave caravan headed to
But the hard times didn’t end there. He was falsely accused of attempted rape, thrown into prison by an angry husband, and betrayed and forgotten by his jail-mates. The first thirty years of Joseph’s life were filled with more heartache and trouble than most of us will experience in a dozen lifetimes.
But a few years later, Joseph’s life took a different turn. The Pharaoh had a disturbing dream that no one could interpret. The cupbearer, one of Joseph’s former inmates, remembered Joseph from his prison days and told the King about his ability to interpret dreams. Joseph interpreted the dream, saved
Many years passed. During the years of abundance, the Egyptians gathered more grain than they could count. Then when the seven years of famine hit, they had enough grain to sustain their country and the surrounding countries as well. Among those who came to purchase food, was none other than Joseph’s deceitful brothers. Joseph forged the path of forgiveness and set a standard unmatched until the cross. He was reunited with his family, including his elderly father and younger brother whom he had never met.
Joseph’s brothers were terrified at the punishment they feared would be heaped on their heads. But Joseph saw the hidden treasure in his painful circumstances. “You intended to harm me,” Joseph explained, “but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” ( Genesis 50:20).
He chose to see the good in the bad. He saw a greater purpose in his seemingly terrible circumstances. How about you? Are there some seemingly bad circumstances that could perhaps hold treasures yet to be discovered? Has a broken dream been restored to something more wonderful than you could have imagined? Have you gone to a deeper level with God because of a difficult situation? Are you a stronger person today because of pain from your past?
Today, let’s look at the trials of our lives through the lens of Joseph’s words, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”
Dear Lord, there are people in my past who have hurt me. Maybe they don’t even realize the pain they have caused and maybe they didn’t do it intentionally. But I know that Satan wants to use that hurt to make me bitter. I refuse to allow the enemy to use my past to make me bitter! What Satan intends for evil, I know that You will use for good. Help me to see the good in each dark situation and use it for Your glory! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Now it's Your Turn
Have you had times in your life similar to Joseph’s where you were treated unjustly?
What can you learn from the way Joseph handled the offenses?
What was the final outcome of those injustices in Joseph’s life?
Can you believe that the hurts in your past can ultimately be used for your good and the good of others in your sphere of influence?
For more on today’s topic see Your Scars Are Beautiful to God: Finding peace and purpose in the hurts of your past by Sharon Jaynes.
Girlfriends in God, Inc.
Originally published Tuesday, 03 October 2006.