“But as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20)
In the book of Genesis there are many different stories that tell us about the nation of Israel. To begin with, God promised Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation. Abraham had a son named Isaac, and when Isaac became a man and got married, he had twin sons – Jacob and Esau. Jacob grew up and got married, and he had twelve sons of his own. Eventually, the families of these twelve sons grew into the twelve tribes of Israel.
But back to Jacob’s twelve sons: Out of these twelve, Jacob had a favorite – Joseph. To show his high regard for Joseph, Jacob gave him a beautiful coat, often referred to as the “coat of many colors.” Jacob’s other sons were jealous of Joseph because their father gave Joseph many gifts and because Joseph was the son set to become head of the family (even though normally the oldest son would have become the head of the family).
One day, Jacob sent his sons out to take care of the sheep – all of his sons except Joseph and Benjamin, that is. After his sons had been gone for several days, Jacob wanted to send food to them in Dothan, so he sent Joseph. As Joseph made his way to the place where his brothers were camped, they saw him in the distance. When he was still far away, the brothers plotted against Joseph to kill him. Reuben told the brothers they should not kill him and suggested that they throw him into a pit in the ground. Reuben’s secret plan was to come back and rescue Joseph. But before Reuben could rescue him, the brothers decide to sell Joseph and make some money. They sold him to a group of merchants traveling to Egypt. Joseph was now a slave.
When Joseph got to Egypt he became a slave for a man named Potiphar. Joseph became the head of Potiphar’s household. But when he was serving his master Potiphar, Potiphar’s wife tried to get Joseph to sin with her. Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife, but she told her husband a lie and Joseph went to prison. He stayed in prison for two years.
One night, the Pharaoh of Egypt had a dream. No one could interpret his dream. One of Pharaoh’s servants told him about Joseph and Joseph’s God, so Pharaoh sent for Joseph out of prison and asked him about the dream. Joseph prayed to God, and God told Joseph the meaning of the dream – and then Joseph told Pharaoh what God had told him. Pharaoh then made Joseph the second ruler over all of Egypt. God took care of Joseph!
But God also took care of Joseph’s family. There was a famine in the land where Joseph’s brothers were living. Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to find food. When they did, they did not recognize Joseph. Joseph told his brothers who he was, and then he was reunited with his family. His dad and all his brothers and their families moved to Egypt and lived there until the famine was over.
Joseph was sold into slavery, and then thrown into prison and forgotten there. Those seem like the worst possible things that could have happened. But through those painful, “bad” circumstances, God sent Joseph to Egypt and used his presence there to provide a way for the whole family to survive the coming famine.
Even when very bad things happen to us – even if people are mean or lie about us or punish us for sins that we really did not commit – even then God is working everything out for our good and for His own glory. Of course, God promises to do this only for His own people, for those who love Him and are called by him according to His purpose (from Romans 8:28).
God takes care of His own people, even through painful or bad circumstances.
» Have I been lied about or treated badly?
» Have I forgiven people who have sinned against me – as Joseph forgave his brothers – because I see that God will work good things out of my painful circumstances?