I know that is certainly my temptation. I love the Lord with my whole heart. I really do. And yet, sometimes, things go wrong. And when that happens, I am reminded of Joseph.
Joseph was born into a dysfunctional family. He was the 11th son out of 12, and his 10 older brothers hated him. It didn’t help that Joseph had dreams predicting that the family would bow down to him. Or that Dad gave Joseph a really expensive, colorful robe that was clearly not to be worn by anyone who tended flocks and herds.
It is no surprise that when Joseph showed up one day to check up on his brothers, things went from bad to worse, quickly. By the end of the day, Joseph was in chains headed for Egypt, sold into slavery. And the brothers went home and told their father that Joseph had been killed. Lovely family.
More than 20 years passed before Joseph saw his family again. Thirteen of those years were spent as a slave and prisoner. Eight more years passed with Joseph in the position of prime minister. And then, one day, Joseph saw his brothers.
Even though it had been decades, they were unmistakable. He, however, looked totally different. This Hebrew teenager had been transformed into an Egyptian man. His brothers did not recognize him.
It’s at this point in the story I think to myself, “Yes, time for some payback.”
And yet, that is not what Joseph does. No — instead, after a series of tests, Joseph reveals himself to his brothers. They are frightened, understandably so. Joseph could have them killed with a single command.
Instead, he offers them forgiveness and restoration. And he says the most amazing thing to them. In Genesis 45:8, he says, “It was not you who sent me here, but God.”
Joseph recognizes that, ultimately, God is in control. Yes, his brothers treated him badly. But God took that bad thing and used it for good.
And today, God does the same thing. The Apostle Paul says it this way in Romans 8:28: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, those who have been called according to his purpose.”
He does not say all things are good; no, some things are bad. But, for those of us who name the name of Christ, God will bring good out of even the bad things.
No matter what your situation today, good or bad, God wants to use it in your life to bring about good. That’s what he does for those who love him. That’s what he did for Joseph. That’s what he does for all his children.
The Rev. Mike Selland is pastor of New Home Church. Sermon Notes is a column by local religious leaders.