But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them. (Genesis 50:19-21)
“God Intended It for Good”
The story of Joseph and his brothers - chapters 37 and 39-50 in the book of Genesis - is so good that they made a musical out of it... a very good musical, at that! It has so many things - sibling rivalry, throwing the annoying little brother into a pit and then selling him to traders on their way to Egypt, lying to one’s father, Joseph being falsely accused and spending time in prison, his rise to becoming Pharaoh’s right-hand man, years of plenty and years of famine (as Joseph predicted), Jacob sending his sons to Egypt to buy grain, Joseph withholding his identity from his brothers for awhile, and the final reunion of Jacob with Joseph, as well as Joseph’s reconciliation with his brothers. [Men, take note: Real men shed tears!]
After Jacob’s death, Joseph’s brothers are basically thinking, “”Okay, now that dad is gone, Joseph is going to let us have it for what we did to him all those years ago!” (See Genesis 50:15) But Joseph has matured. He is no longer the stupid, annoying “baby brother.” He has learned to trust himself, but mostly he has forged a relationship with Yahweh - the God of Abraham and Sarah, the God of Isaac and Rebekah, the God of Jacob and Leah and Rachel. And what he has learned, more than anything else, is that God is good... God is wise... God is powerful... God is loving and merciful... and God can be trusted.
And so he replies to his brothers, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” (see above)
Joseph is way beyond grudges or resentment or payback. He has forgiven his brothers - a long time ago, in fact. Now that he has been reunited with his family of origin, there is nothing to do but love. And he has perspective - the kind of perspective that comes with years spent growing up... with God’s help.
“Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good...”
God has a way of bringing good out of evil, life out of death, reconciliation out of brokenness - because that is how God works.
What about you? How have you witnessed - or been the direct beneficiary - of God’s grace, compassion, and wisdom? Do you want to offer up a prayer of thanks to God today? Yeah. Me, too.