In an episode of “Good Bones,” a home improvement show on television, the designers had a table made from maple by a local woodworker. The wood’s beauty had been enhanced by a beetle in the tree that made a unique pattern. Living in the Lassen National Forest I know that beetles can devastate trees. When I hear of an infestation, I think destruction. But the beetles that infested the maple wood brought beauty to a piece of furniture. If they had been destroyed at the start, the result would not have been the same.
God often turns what we perceive as imminent destruction into beauty. Will we honor him during the journey? Wait upon the Lord?
Joseph did. At the end of his life, he was able to say to his brothers who sold him into slavery: “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. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus, he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Gen 50:20-21 ESV
Because we know Joseph’s story, reading all about him in the Book of Genesis, we can nod our head in agreement at his declaration about God. Yes, God used the circumstances of his life for great purpose. He brought Joseph to Egypt as a slave; provided opportunity for him to be recognized by Pharoah; and placed him in a position of power so he could save his extended family from a devastating famine. In Egypt, Israel grew into a great nation. The descendants of Jacob’s sons formed the 12 tribes of Israel. We get an idea of the strength of their numbers when we read the census report on the men able to go to war (Num. 1:1-42). The census was taken shortly after God parted the Red Sea to form a path to the Promised Land. The tribe of Judah counted 74,600 warriors, the most of any tribe. Reuben had 46,500; Simeon, 59,300; Gad, 45,650; Issachar, 54,400; Zebulun, 57,400; the half tribe of Ephraim 40,500; the half tribe of Manasseh, 32,200; Benjamin, 35,400; Dan, 62,700; Asher 41,500; and Naphtali, 53,400.
But Joseph did not know the end when his brothers let jealousy get the best of them and they threw him in a cistern. He was 17 years old and human, so it is difficult to believe that he did not have moments of panic and despair. Their first thought was to kill him, but instead they sold him to Ishmaelite traders. He spent time as a slave. He spent time in prison.
But what is written about him? We learn he refused to sin against God during his time as a slave in Potiphar’s household and God “caused all he did to succeed.” When he was wrongly imprisoned over a false accusation the Lord remained with him and showed him steadfast love and favor.
Could it be that Joseph had confidence in the Lord, therefore he behaved well long before he experienced the blessings? He walked by faith, not by sight.
Often, we want to escape the situation. Joseph’s circumstances weren’t great, but He knew the Lord was. He was willing to stand on what he knew of God no matter how long he was trapped in circumstances.
We say God is worthy of our praise. Is that sometimes, or all the time? God is bringing about the purpose of our life. Are we in for the long haul?
Contemplate your Ways:
1-Have you faced a difficult situation lately? How did you react? Did your response bring honor to God?
2-What do you know about God that will sustain you during hard times? If you still fight anxiety and fear during these times, be honest before God digging deep to find out why.