Scripture Reading: Genesis 45:1-47:12 / Matthew 16:1-20 / Psalm 14:1-7
Missionary Bonnie Penner Witherall was working at the prenatal clinic in Lebanon that offered Muslim women medical services at a nearby refugee camp. A gunman walked into the clinic and brutally shot her 3 times in the head, killing her instantly. Her husband Gary was devastated but the next day he publicly forgave his wife’s killer and said, “God led us to Lebanon and we knew that we might die. It’s a costly forgiveness. It cost my wife.” After returning home he added, “God said there’s a seed that’s been planted in your heart. You either hate and be angry or you forgive. I said I have to forgive.”
Whenever tragedy strikes we usually ask, “Why did this happen?” or “Where is God in all of this?” Joseph suffered through the injustices and cruelties of life. He stood before his brothers who hated him, attempted to kill him and sold him into slavery. He did not justifiably punish them but said, “God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.” (Gen. 45:7,8)
Joseph believed God had a divine promise, plan and purpose for everything that he experienced in life. Joseph reasoned that his brothers left him in a pit to die but God’s plan was to send the Midian traders. Potiphar’s wife planned to entice him but God’s plan was to imprison Joseph to get him away from her! The cupbearer’s plan was to use Joseph but God’s plan was to use the cupbearer. Pharaoh’s plan was to use Joseph to save his nation but God’s plan was to use Joseph to save his people.
God promised to bless Joseph with favor and honor that was far greater than his father or brothers could ever imagine. God’s plan was not always pleasant yet Joseph praised God through every ugly twist and turn. Joseph was 17 years old when his brothers sold him into slavery; he spent 14 years in captivity and was completing his 9th year as prime minister of Egypt.
No one in their wildest dreams would ever imagine Joseph to be in this place of power and influence. Joseph never lost faith in God’s promise, plan or purpose and rested in God’s sovereignty. This was evident when he named his sons Manasseh “God has made me forget all my trouble” and Ephraim “God has made me fruitful”. Joseph knew God was always in charge of his life so forgiveness was not an issue.
His brothers drove him away but he calls them to come near. They were willing to let him die of starvation and thirst in a pit, but he gave them bountiful provisions. They ripped his coat of many colors off his back, but he gives them expensive Egyptian garments. They sold him for silver but Joseph blesses them with silver. God is faithful to watch over everything we give Him, our lives included! The world looks a lot different when we see it through His eyes. Our lives are not left to chance but are directed by His promise, plan, purpose and…His divine sovereignty!
Pastor James Clark has pastored Calvary Assembly since 1985. He is blessed with his wife Yvonne, six children, two son-in-laws, a beautiful granddaughter and hopefully many more grandchildren to follow!