Genesis 45:5

But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.

These words of Joseph are some of the most powerful words of faith in the Bible. Joseph was one of the twelve sons of Jacob. His brothers absolutely hated him. They could not speak peaceably to him, and they wanted him gone. To make matters worse, Joseph shared a dream with the family where all his brothers would bow down and worship him. This made them hate Joseph even more.

He would often check on his brothers and bring an evil report back to their father. In other words, he often tattled on his brothers. He was spoiled, and gloated about his favored position with his father.

One day, his father sent Joseph to check on his brothers as they grazed the flocks of sheep. When they saw Joseph coming, they said, “Let’s kill the dreamer and see what will become of his dream now.” They threw Joseph in a pit while they plotted on how to get rid of him. Then a band of traders passed through, and they decided to sell him as a slave (which was common in ancient days). Then they took his coat and covered it with the blood of one of the sheep, and sent it home to his father as evidence Joseph had been killed by an animal.

Joseph was sold again to a leader in Egypt. There he was falsely accused of assault by a woman who was angry because he would not sleep with her. He sat in prison for many years. Unlike modern days, if someone was sent into prison, they could wait their entire lives if the accuser never sent for them. Forgotten by the world, Joseph spent his youth and early adulthood as a forgotten prisoner.

What he did not realize was that God was shaping the selfish, spoiled boy into a mature, spiritually strong adult. God never forgot him, but used circumstances to prepare him.

When the time came, God gave Pharaoh a dream that troubled him. No one could give him a clear answer as to what the dream meant, but one of Pharaoh’s servants, who had spent time in prison said, “I remember a prisoner who could accurately interpret dreams. He told me I would return to my position in three days, and it happened.” Read the entire story of Joseph starting in Genesis chapter 37.

Joseph correctly interpreted the dream and warned Pharaoh that God was telling the king what God was about to do on the earth. There would be seven years of abundance followed by seven years of complete famine. Joseph then gave the plan on how to prepare for the coming famine. Pharaoh was so amazed that he put Joseph in charge of everything. He gave him a wife, and Joseph’s life as a free man began. He called his firstborn son, Manasseh, which means ‘cause to forget’. He said, “God has caused me to forget my toils and my father’s house.”

Now that he was so blessed by God, it more than made up for all he had lost. The years spent in prison were worth the toil. His new family and new life made up for losing his family and the love of his father by the hands of his brothers. What he did not yet know was that God was going to use the famine to reunite him with his father.

When his brothers were sent to buy food from Egypt, they encountered Joseph. They did not recognize him, but he did recognize them, and he remembered his dream. After a long series of events, Joseph revealed who he was and sent for his father, brothers, their families, and prepared a place in the land for them to survive the remaining years of famine.

This is when he uttered the words at the beginning of this devotional. In Genesis 50, they were afraid he would retaliate against them and Joseph said, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to save many people.” The self-focused spoiled little boy was long gone. Joseph could now look at life from the perspective of the Lord. God used the very people who hated Joseph to save them from the famine. It wasn’t his brothers who sold Joseph into slavery, but God. The Lord could not use the self-centered Joseph, so He prepared Joseph. It took many years to chip away the selfish layers and create a God-focused man who had a heart grounded in faith toward God. Once he was at that place, God opened the doors of the prison and lifted Joseph up. He never thought to retaliate on his previous master when he was a slave, nor the woman who accused him and sent him to prison. He never went after his enemies, but instead saw clearly how his enemies were tools in God’s hand to guide Joseph into the place of exaltation and blessing.

This applies to every believers life. When enemies attack, God can use them to guide you. Look at Proverbs 16:7

When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

You can be walking by faith and still have ways that are not God’s plan. We have a very limited point of view. We can only see what is before us, but not what is outside of our perspective. There will be times when the only way to redirect our lives into God’s perfect plan for you is to allow enemies to force you outside of your comfort zone.

When we get distracted by the enemy, and spend our energy on fighting  for ourselves, we are hindering God’s work. When we become angry, brood, and allow ourselves to hate because we have been wronged, we are hindering ourselves from entering God’s plan. God would never have exalted Joseph if he were still bitter. Nor will we see God unveil His blessings for us while we remain angry and bitter.

Faith calls us to step back and see life from the perspective of God working all things for our good. All means all. Not just the pleasant parts of life, but also the difficult and unfair parts of life. Look at Psalm 36:23-24

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand.

When the Bible uses man in this context, it is referring to ‘man’ as in ‘mankind’, both male and female. A good man is a man or woman of faith. God declared Abraham as a righteous and just person because he believed God and God credited his faith as righteousness. The Bible makes it clear that we are good in Him, not in ourselves.

When someone is walking by faith, trusting God, then we have the promise that God orders our steps. Even when we fall short, God picks us up and keeps us from failure. We continue to look to Him, as he directs our steps.

This is especially true when life goes wrong. It is hard to trust in the difficult times. It’s hard to trust when life is unfair or enemies target us. However, if we can keep the focus on God’s promise that all things work together for the good of those who love God (Romans 8:48) and that God is directing our steps, then we can adjust our focus from ourselves and our circumstances to God’s leading hand. That is when we can obey the promise to love our enemies and trust God when everything seems to go wrong.

When life seems to be falling apart, a man or woman of faith says, “Even though I walk through the valley and storms of life, I will fear no evil for You are with me.” In fact, let’s read that promise from Psalm 23:

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

We don’t find our comfort in our circumstances. We are comforted because we know God is protecting and leading. His rod defends us, and His staff keeps us from wandering too far off course. Even in the chaos, we have peace and fellowship at the Lord’s table. Without trusting Him, that table is never found.

Rest in faith. Let God lead. Recognize that God has a plan that will make you forget all your troubles. Let yourself be led and don’t fall into the temptation to fight against His hand thinking you are fighting for yourself.

Wait on the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Eddie Snipes

March 2024

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