“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.”
~ Genesis 50:20
The story of Joseph and his brothers is one that many of us know well, it is a story that has been retold through film and theater, and is a popular Sunday School lesson. As you read this it has been a month since our adult education group spoke about Joseph, but as I write this I am only just preparing the lesson plan for this fifth and final week.
I know that we’ll be talking about “how God is working in all this craziness”, particularly in the craziness of our own lives.
And more than anything we will probably focus on the ways in which God works through the brokenness of this world. Because there is plenty that occurs in our lives that either by intention or not can and does lead us into harm.
And honestly I am not a “God has a plan” person, at least not when it comes to the traumatic and heartbreaking experiences we might have as part of this world. I’ve been in too many hospital rooms where someone too young was taken to believe that God “needed another angel”.
Luther mentions in his Small Catechism talks about the four different “wills”, there is the will of God, the will of the human, the will of the world, and the will of evil. I’m sure in our adult education session we discussed these, as we have before, and I am sure we will again.
But a way that we understand tragedy is that creation is broken, from our second week in this series as we discussed original sin and the way in which it impacted creation – sin did not just corrupt humanity, but rather all of creation, all the world, and because of that brokenness creation is not what God envisioned for us, we are not what God envisioned for us.
And so when Joseph tells his brothers that God used their evil intentions to do good, I don’t think that it was God’s will for his brother’s to sin against him – but I think that God able to work in the midst of tragedy.
Often it is in the middle of trauma, of heartbreak, that we find God doing the most to comfort us, to care for us, and even to bring about miracles of change. And that’s what God does here, not only does God see the evil intentions of Joseph’s brothers, but God works in Joseph’s life to care for the region through his service, and even to reconcile the cold and broken hearts of Joseph’s brothers. When the world, when our own sinful human natures, or when evil acts with intentions of harm, God is there with comfort, with love and mercy, and with hope.
What are some ways you have seen God working in your life? Have you experienced God working through difficult or traumatic situations? How might God use you to help others in times of trouble?