It is hard for most of us to be able to claim much good coming out of this pandemic. So when you hear a story that actually has a good ending it needs to be shared.
My daughter is an airline employee. Her company is working hard to not furlough any employees in the midst of the catastrophic economic impact that airlines are facing. They have come up with creative ways to mitigate their situation, including offering early retirements, extending leaves, and creating job-sharing possibilities. She is currently on “bonding leave” with her baby, and was just awarded a one-year extension. She will maintain her seniority with the company and was given other incentives, the best of which is an additional twelve months home with her baby at a critical time in his life.
Talk about a blessing coming from a dark time! We are so thankful.
In our scripture today, we see the culmination of the Joseph story. You remember that his brothers sold him into slavery and he ended up in Egypt. There he succeeded in capturing the Pharaoh’s admiration and eventually rose to a position of power. He led Egypt to store enough grain to survive the famine that came to the land.
Joseph’s brothers, living in famine-starved Israel, have had to travel to Egypt to find food. Lo and behold, they find themselves in front of their own long-lost brother who now controls the grain stores. Their guilt is overwhelming and when news comes that their father is dead, they fear that Joseph will exact revenge on them.
Genesis 50 (Common English Bible)
15 When Joseph’s brothers realized that their father was now dead, they said, “What if Joseph bears a grudge against us, and wants to pay us back seriously for all of the terrible things we did to him?” 16 So they approached Joseph and said, “Your father gave orders before he died, telling us, 17 ‘This is what you should say to Joseph. “Please, forgive your brothers’ sins and misdeeds, for they did terrible things to you. Now, please forgive the sins of the servants of your father’s God.”” Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
Even in this moment, the brothers are trying to manipulate Joseph’s feelings in hopes of a positive outcome.
18 His brothers wept too, fell down in front of him, and said, “We’re here as your slaves.”
At this point, one might expect that Joseph would load them up on a slave cart and have them hauled off to some miserable work site, just as he was hauled off on a slave cart when they threw him in a pit many years earlier. But watch what happens:
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I God? 20 You planned something bad for me, but God produced something good from it, in order to save the lives of many people, just as he’s doing today. 21 Now, don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your children.” So he put them at ease and spoke reassuringly to them.
“What you intended for evil, God used for good.”
This maturity of hindsight is a good lesson for us today. Can you say the same thing? Are you able to look back at a particularly difficult time in your life and see how God used it for your good?
I can. I wouldn’t be here in the Outer Banks if it weren’t for decisions made to restructure the church staff where I was serving. The pain of those decisions was crushing. I was exiled. But I landed on this island, and I can look back and see how God indeed used it for my good.
My prayer for you today is that no matter what awful place you find yourself in right now, you will be able to claim God’s good work breaking through the dark. Hang on. God will use even this for your own good.