Text: Genesis 50:15-21
15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: 17 ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.” ’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (ESV)
Don’t you love this text? The background, of course, is a long story, but it includes Joseph’s brothers plotting to kill him and then changing their mind and selling him into slavery. The years that followed included many ups and downs for Joseph, but by the time of our text Joseph has risen to an incredibly high position in Egypt — one which God used to save all of Joseph’s extended family. Now, Jacob, the patriarch, has died, and Joseph’s brothers are worried that Joseph will now pay them back for everything they did to him. Joseph’s response is one of the most remarkable in all of scripture: “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” From his vantage point Joseph was able to look back at all the suffering and see how God had used it to save his family and to do so much good.
This applies to us in so many ways: bad stuff happens in the world, and sometimes it happens to us, and we wonder if God is there and if so, what he’s doing. Joseph sees God’s purpose, and he helps us to see the many ways which God might be using the bad stuff in our world to bring about good. After all, if he can take the most wicked act in all of history — the murder of God on the cross — surely we can trust him with the evil we see in our lives.