15When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "(A)What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!"
16So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, "Your father charged before he died, saying,
17'Thus you shall say to Joseph, "Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong."' And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father." And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
18Then his brothers also came and (B)fell down before him and said, "Behold, we are your servants."
19But Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place?
20"As for you, (C)you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.
21"So therefore, do not be afraid; (D)I will provide for you and your little ones." So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
The Old Testament story of Joseph is one of the best-known examples of the Lord blessing a man’s life though his harsh experiences. In today’s passage, the slave-turned-prisoner-turned-national leader stands before the brothers who sold him into servitude. He says, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? 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” (vv. 19-20).
One individual’s sin or failure often affects another person’s life—something we tend to deem unfair. But our ways are not God’s ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). From Scripture, we can glean that Joseph desired to serve the Lord (Genesis 39:9; 40:8; 41:16). Yet his brothers were permitted to sell him as a slave. And Potiphar’s wife wasn’t prevented from accusing Joseph of rape, which landed the young man in prison. The Bible promises, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and rescues them” (Psalm 34:7). In other words, hardship and trial could touch Joseph—or any of the faithful—only because God purposefully allowed it.
No one can say for sure why bad things happen. But we can draw comfort from the fact that God knows. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Our part is to learn from the example of men like Joseph, who trusted the Lord and followed all that He commanded.
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