The story of Joseph has long intrigued and fascinated me. This poor guy was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers who couldn’t stand that he was their father’s favorite. At the age of seventeen he was taken to Egypt as a slave, and there experienced a lot of ups and downs (think Potiphar’s wife, prison, etc). This young man had a lot of blows to deal with. He had a few major upheavals that changed the course of his life, yet he didn’t abandon his faith. More importantly, God didn’t abandon him. And the scene near the end when Joseph finally reveals to his brothers who he is and forgives them—it’s a perfect tear-jerker ending. Even Hollywood would be hard pressed to top that. But let’s look at that scene a bit more closely, shall we?
Psalm 105:16-22 summarizes the story of Joseph, and verse 17 gives a startling revelation. “He [God] had sent a man ahead of them [to Egypt], Joseph, who was sold as a slave.” Wait, wait, wait. WHAT? God sent Joseph ahead of them? You mean to tell me that this evil act on the brothers’ part was actually part of God’s plan? I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable with that. Does God really work through evil, through sinning? No, God doesn’t work through evil. He works in spite of it. In other words, God accomplishes His purposes despite what we sinful human beings do to get in His way.
Joseph himself realizes this by the time his brothers come to him asking for food. Check out his speech in Genesis 45. Verse 5 says, “God sent me before you to preserve life.” He repeats that in verse 7: “God sent me before you…” And his declaration in verse 8 sends shivers up my spine: “So it was not you who sent me here, but God.” Wow. Just, wow.
Ah, but this is the part that may be difficult to swallow, dear one. Sometimes your life isn’t about you. I never could have foreseen where my life would take me. Our current situation is a far cry from what I envisioned. In many ways, it looks like defeat from human perspective. But God doesn’t see things from our perspective. Had we not ended up where we are, I would never have met some of the people I now know and have invited to church. Had we not experienced much heartache and loss, I would never have dreamed of writing to those experiencing pain and loss themselves. It’s a hard pill for human pride to swallow, but my life isn’t about me. And neither is yours.
But here’s the thing—Jesus’ life wasn’t about Him either. It was about you. He didn’t come down to earth to party and be successful and popular. He came to rescue you. He lived His entire life perfectly for you. He suffered for doing the right thing because you did the wrong things. He took the punishment that should have been yours upon His sinless shoulders, and He died for your transgressions. But that’s not the end of the story. He rose from the dead victorious three days later, defeating death for you. Because His life was about you, His victory is yours as well. Life here on this earth is hard. It really is. But that’s not the end of the story, dear one. Eternal life in heaven awaits.