As we all know, trails and tribulations are to be expected, and many of them are out of human control. However, sometimes it feels as if these circumstance are completely and intentionally inflicted upon us by others.
I’m sure each of us have, unfortunately, felt personally attacked. Maybe someone you confided in… used your insecurities against you. Maybe someone you were kind to… exploited that kindness for their own benefit. Maybe someone you trusted… broke a promise.
Or, in Joseph’s case, maybe someone you loved… intentionally harmed you out of a place of jealousy.
When someone deliberately hurts us, it probably seems impossible to imagine that it could be good in any sense.
But, just as we trust in Romans 8:28 as we walk through sickness, death, heartbreak, the loss of a job, or many other things that seem out of our control… we have to trust that God is working through these hurtful circumstances which often feel incredibly intentional- personal- and directed at the most vulnerable parts of our hearts.
While reading the other day, I came across a beautifully worded passage:
“As Joseph’s story unfolds, we learn that his brother’s intentional efforts to destroy Joseph’s dreams were the very means God would use to fulfill them.”
When looking at the story of Joseph, I believe we see a near-perfect response to intentional hurt: resilience and forgiveness.
Joseph is resilient to his calling. He knew God was calling him to a position of power. Yet, he was sold into slavery by jealous brothers, falsely accused of sexual assault by a manipulative woman, thrown into jail by an enraged master, and -not to mention- almost murdered. I don’t know about you, but I think I would have felt defeated, abused, and then some.
But Joseph didn’t.
Joseph served his master well- and stood out doing so. As a result, he became Potiphar’s personal attendant, and was in charge of his entire household. Not only did the Lord make Joseph a successful man, but he blessed the entire Egyptian household based on the intentions and work ethic of Joseph (Genesis 39:2-5).
Joseph valued and maintained his integrity. He did not give in to temptation, and the Lord blessed him over and over again- even in prison. Once again, Joseph’s resilient faith resulted in success and favor with the prison warden- so much so that Joseph had authority over the other prisoners (Genesis 39: 21-23).
Furthermore, because Joseph used his position of power in prison to serve others well, he was able to equip Egypt to survive the troubling years ahead. When he was released from prison, Joseph had the opportunity to control the harvesting and distribution of goods. Joseph had the power over essential resources. Therefore, he had power over the livelihood of both the nation and its people (Genesis 41:46-57).
Joseph was resilient regarding his calling, and we see it lived out and blessed as a result of each intentional effort to destroy him.
Additionally, when Joseph’s brothers (the same ones who originally plotted to kill him and sold him into slavery) came to ask for the very resources Joseph controlled… he responded by granting their request. Eventually, when Joseph revealed his identity, he declared something to his brothers which I believe speaks for itself:
“Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.” Genesis 45:5-8
Throughout this week, and all the ones after, I pray you to view and respond to intentional efforts to harm you with resilience and forgiveness, just as Joseph did.