“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20)
Is anyone awaiting your forgiveness? Humanly speaking, maybe they don’t deserve it, as the hurt caused is beyond forgiveness. Consider the story of Joseph in the last chapters of Genesis (chapters 37-50). Joseph’s brothers, jealous of how much their father Jacob loved him, sold him into slavery in Egypt, making it seem as if he had been killed. This was just the beginning of Joseph’s trials. God proved both faithful and present with Joseph in these times and he eventually rose to great power in Egypt. But just think of all of the time Joseph missed with his family; the lost time with his father who loved him so much. Could you forgive if you were treated that way or would revenge be in order? What did Joseph do that may serve you and me when we are harmed by the evil of another?
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” This verse sums up the story. There was a famine in all the land and as a result of his brothers trip to Egypt to purchase grain, Joseph was reunited with his family and eventually brought them all to Egypt in order to provide for them. In time, his father Jacob died. Skeptical that the reason for Joseph’s kindness was only due to their father, Joseph’s brothers inquired of what he might do. Upon this inquiry, he told them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?” If that seems an uncommon response to being mistreated, it is, and it’s even more uncommon given Joseph’s power and ability to punish his brothers if he so chose. But Joseph chose a different response, a response explained only by God’s grace. What Joseph understood, at least in part, was that God was sovereignly at work in his life, and part of that work included using other’s evil intent for His ultimate glory. The specific purpose for Joseph’s circumstance was the preservation of the Hebrew people. True recipients of grace desire to give it away and Joseph chose to be gracious and forgive his brothers. His forgiveness is a reflection of even greater forgiveness that we have in Jesus Christ.
From a human perspective, maybe Joseph should have never forgiven his brothers, but God’s standard is never measured by human perspective. The kind of forgiveness Joseph displayed comes only by divine power. God is sovereign and His purposes are always good. Do you sense those good purposes? Do you believe that, “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)? God doesn’t promise there won’t be pain and challenges in achieving that purpose, but He does promise His presence. Understanding that, as well as His sovereignty has many benefits. In this story, among other things, it was the benefit of forgiveness in great measure. Will you make that same choice? There may be that someone who has brought terrible hurt and misfortune to you, but through it all, God has been at work to fulfill His good purpose for your life. Realizing this was valuable in Joseph’s life and can be in yours as well. So I ask again, is anyone awaiting your forgiveness?
Father, you are sovereign and you are good. I know that when people come against me, you are capable of turning evil intent into good. Your presence with me in tough times is what brings me through. Help me to understand that during these times you’re still in control, working things out that will bring you glory. Help me to give forgiveness in great measure, just as you have forgiven me in even greater measure and help me to lead a life worthy of that forgiveness. Amen!