Somehow I think I am able to control all the details in my life. I make lists. I organize my calendar and schedule appointments, I stress over all the pieces and work hard to keep everything in the right place. In all of my frantic activity, I picture God sitting on His heavenly throne, patiently waiting for me to release the details of my life to Him. The unexpected events of life can take us by surprise but God is never surprised. He has a plan – a purpose – and we can trust Him.
We are coming to the end of Genesis, the book of beginnings. You may have heard the story of Joseph, the beloved boy with the coat of many beautiful colors. It is a common story often told in children’s church and Vacation Bible School. His father Jacob loved Joseph so much he gifted him a special coat. His brothers did not receive coats like Joseph did, so they became jealous, and despised him for it. When given the chance, they decided to kill their brother.
Thankfully, the brothers did not kill Joseph. Instead they sold him into slavery. They lied to their father and reported his son was dead. Joseph ended up in Egypt, where he faced many trials. Among them, he was falsely accused and thrown in prison. And yet, God was always with Joseph. He never lost sight of God.
Joseph was reunited with his brothers many years later. The men traveled to Egypt desperately wanting to buy food for their family during a famine. Just as he had described in a dream, Joseph’s brothers bowed down to him, not even realizing it was their own brother.
Any reasonable person would have been angry with these brothers. How could they have done such evil deeds to their brother? How could they have lied to their father and said he was dead? Joseph had the authority to do whatever he pleased with these brothers. He could have sent them to prison or had them killed. He could have simply said, “I told you so.” But Joseph did not do any of these things.
The Bible tells us Joseph replied in the following way.
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. ~Genesis 50:20
The Message paraphrase says it this way.
Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid. Do I act for God? Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people. Easy now, you have nothing to fear; I’ll take care of you and your children.” He reassured them, speaking with them heart-to-heart. ~Genesis 50:20
I don’t know about you, but I doubt that I would have been quite so understanding. Joseph forgave them! He loved them and lavished them with gifts. He even sent for his people to come to Egypt where he could look after them and provide their needs. The son Jacob thought was dead brought life to the rest of his family. This is a beautiful example to us – humans plot for evil but God is able to bring about good.
You may ask how does this apply to me today? Well, God gifts us the words of the Bible for instruction. He shows us what He has done so that we can learn from it. You will probably not be sold into slavery. Your role may not be to save your people from hunger and famine. But, just like Joseph, God has a plan for you. In the same way he placed Joseph in the right place at the right time, God’s plan will place you right where he wants you. When you don’t understand why you find yourself in a difficult situation, I encourage you to find hope in Joseph’s story.
God was in control all along, and Joseph trusted God. The path of Joseph’s life was filled with hardship, mistreatment, and difficulties. Are there elements of his story that touch you? Maybe your heart is stirred or challenged by Joseph’s responses throughout these difficult years of his life. Do I trust God when others mistreat me? Am I willing to “turn and run away” when I’m face to face with temptation? When I’m waiting on God’s direction in my life, do I acknowledge His control – His plan and purpose? Is my heart filled with mercy, kindness, and forgiveness when others mistreat me?
Take some time to ponder God’s work in your life. Acknowledge your need of Him in every situation and confess your self-sufficiency and lack of dependence on Him. Open your hands up and give the Lord control.
Listen to the words of this song, Control