The gospel reading recently in church was from the story of Joseph and his brothers, in the book of Genesis. The brothers are afraid that once their father dies, Joseph, remembering how they sold him into slavery in Egypt, will take revenge. They go to him humbly apologizing. Here is his response:
“…. ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 50:19-20
Each week in Sunday School, after I’ve completed our opening prayer, I ask the class “how have you seen God at work this week?” Usually the answers involve things like the beauty in nature, someone who has recovered from an illness, a word of encouragement, or a need that was met. One person called them “mini-miracles.” It’s wonderful to notice and give thanks for these. However, it’s also important to realize that God is at work even when things are not going well. Consider the case of Joseph, mentioned in the gospel reading above. He was treated badly by his brothers, he endured slavery and prison. Things looked bleak. Yet, God was at work. Through difficulties that seemed undeserved, He positioned Joseph to save his family.
There are other examples in the Bible. The Israelites wander in the wilderness for 40 years — but through that experience, they draw closer to God. Naomi and Ruth are left widowed and destitute — but through God’s provision, Ruth remarries and becomes an ancestress of Jesus. Jesus dies on the cross — but in so doing, atones for our sins and reconciles us with the Father.
Many of us are going through difficult times right now. Some has lost jobs or incomes; churches can’t meet in the accustomed way; many have become isolated, anxious and depressed. Yet God is at work. From our limited viewpoint, things are bad, but God is not limited and His plans are good. Take heart. The best is yet to come.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28