26 March – 1 April 2017.
Now that Jacob has died, Joseph’s brothers start to really worry about Joseph taking his revenge. The brothers had treated Joseph so badly, and now that their father wasn’t there to keep everything friendly, what was Joseph going to do to them? The brothers lived in Joseph’s country, under his power and control, so we can understand why they are worried.
Of course, Joseph had told his brothers before not to worry about him taking revenge. But maybe they think that’s just what someone planning secret revenge would say! It shows us just how hard it is for us to trust people that we have tricked or treated badly before. We are always suspicious of the revenge we think must be coming.
This is especially bad within families. We know that in this world there will always be people who try to hurt us. But have you noticed how it’s not strangers that hurt us the most, but the people closest to us? It’s the people we trust, the people we open our hearts to that hurt us so deeply. For many of us, the deepest hurts in our lives and the most painful wounds in our hearts are those that have come from family and our closest friends.
But even though Joseph’s brothers hurt him so badly, in ch. 50 he reassures them again: Don’t worry, don’t be afraid, there is no secret revenge coming. Why? In v. 20 he says something amazing: “You intended to hurt me, but God intended it all for good.” They tried to be evil, but God took that evil and changed it all into something good.
This is the wonderful promise we see running through the whole Bible, and it’s the wonderful promise God gives us. Yes, sometimes people try to do evil things to us, and sometimes they even succeed. But God, in his power and grace, takes that evil and he changes it, he softens it, he transforms it, and makes it grow into something good.
Sometimes that happens quickly. Sometimes, like in Joseph’s story, it takes many years. And sometimes, like in the Old Testament story of the Israelites, it may take generations. But in the end we can hold on to that hope and to God’s promise: that God is always working behind the scenes to transform evil into good, and to make all things work out for the best.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis