When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?" So they sent word to Joseph, saying, "Your father left these instructions before he died: "This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.' Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father." When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. "We are your slaves," they said.
But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. - Genesis 50: 15-21 (NIV)
You intended to harm me but God intended it for good! This is the promise of Romans 8:28! In the middle of your bad medical report God is working all things out for the good. In the middle of the crisis with your kids God is working all things out for the good. In the middle of that desert you are wandering around in, God is working all things out for the good. Now realize, that does not always mean we get the answer that we want. Do you think Joseph wanted to stay in prison for 13 years? Did he want to be betrayed by his own brothers? Of course not. But overall, God has a plan for the salvation of many and He is always working toward that good end. When you can't see God's hand you can always trust His heart.
There ares however conditions attached in this verse that is often overlooked. In these days there is an entitlement Christianity being preached that is no real Gospel at all. That blessings are what we demand from God instead of what He has already done on the cross. The truth is that God is working in all things for the good of those who meet two very specific conditions. First, they must love God. I know what you are thinking. Of course I love God! Not with your mouths beloved.
You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ""These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.'" - Matthew 15: 7-9 (NIV)
They worship me in vain! We talk a good game about love but in the end do our lives back up our words? What are the typical worldly signs you are in love? You always are thinking about the other person. You always want to spend time with the other person. You are willing to change for the other person. You become sacrificial in that you become more concerned about them than yourselves. Terrific. Now let's apply that same standard to God and see how we measure up. Are we always thinking about God and the things of God? Are we dying to spend time with Him - in worship and in His Word? Have we been willing to change who we are for God? Are we more concerned about His plans than ours? These are the things we have to work on. This is what Joesph no doubt was working on for the 13 years God was working all things for his good. Far too often we say we love God but we treat Him like we are casually dating Him. We might have a date night once per week on Sundays. Maybe we can squeeze some extra time in for Him if our church has a prayer night. God does not want to date us beloved. He expects a commitment. There is a reason He uses the imagery of the church being His bride and sin being adultery!
You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. - James 4: 4 (NIV)
This is often the struggle. We claim to love God but we still love so much in the world. We wonder sometimes why it takes so long for some of our situations to be resolved and maybe God is waiting for us to stop cheating on Him! The lure of the world and our flesh will always be there and perfection is not achievable but if we were honest, sometimes we are not trying very hard to be separate for Him. To truly love Him.