Monday, October 8, 2012

FAVORITE VERSES SERIES: Turning Tragedies On Their Heads

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done,
the saving of many lives.
~ Genesis 50:20, NIV ~

Our third installment of "Favorite Verses Series" finds us once again in the book of Genesis.  While you may have known the story behind the verse since you were a young child, you will find yourself clinging to this verse for years to come.  

These words of God come from the story of Joseph, of many-colored coat fame.  For those who are unaware of the detailed story of Joseph beyond his coat, allow me to give an abbreviated summary of the details.  The favored son of Rachel and Jacob, Joseph had a gift at making his 11 other brothers jealous.  Not only was he not required to exert the heavy labor that his brothers were, but he was also blessed with the talent of interpreting of dreams.  When Joseph shared with his brothers the dream where sheaves of grain representing the brothers all bowed down to one sheaf of grain representing himself, evil schemes started in motion.  In their jealous rage, the brothers staged Joseph's death while really selling him into slavery.

This is where Joseph's pride was burned away and his spiritual growth was fed.  Joseph served as a faithful, diligent slave in Egypt.  Unfortunately, he was thrown in prison when falsely accused of attempted rape after refusing the advances of his master's seductive wife.  Given the hope that he would be released by interpreting the dreams of fellow prisoners, Joseph instead found himself languishing unjustly for years.  Eventually, however, one of those fellow prisoners did recall Joseph when the Pharoah could find no one to interpret his haunting, repeated dream.  With precision accuracy, Joseph translated what had been tormenting the Egyptian leader in his sleep, and thereby, saving the land from a future famine.  This not only won him permanent release from jail, but it also earned him the prominent position of second in command of all of Egypt.

Meanwhile, things weren't turning out too well for the brothers.  The famine did hit the land of Israel.  Hearing that there was plenty of food stored up in Egypt, the 11 brothers traveled to see if they could purchase some grain.  Fast forward through many sordid details, and the brothers come face to face with the brothers that they had wronged.  

Predictably, Joseph's brothers were shocked, fearful and remorseful.  But Genesis 50:20 represents the wisdom that God had poured into a humbled Joseph.  Rather than responding with bitterness and retaliation, Joseph had grown to a point where he saw God's redemptive hand in the entire situation.  The brothers had meant him harm, but God used that very act of wickedness to save thousands of people from the certain suffering and death of famine.

In this Bible verse, there is tremendous power for those of us walking the journey of parenting a child with special needs.  This passage looks at all of the pain and offers boundless hope.  Joseph ends up being a standard bearer for those of us who walk a lengthy journey of heartache.

First, he shows us that injustice in our lives does not go unnoticed by God.  Who of us can make sense of the injustice that our children suffer by being diagnosed with a special need?  Yet, the Lord proves in Joseph that He can bring something amazing out of such injustice.

Second, Joseph shows us what glory can come out of forgiveness.  When he had every opportunity to get even with those who had wronged him, he did things God's way instead.  As a result, both his brothers as well as those of us who read the story are softened by the incredible mercy shown.  How often do we see our children wronged at the hands of peers, educators or doctors?  When they do, remember that mercy will point these people to God far better than vengeance.

Our God is the God of the impossible situation.  He is in control, and will use who and what He wishes to bring a remarkable outcome.  The story of Joseph from Genesis is absolute assurance of that.  Take heart in this verse over the next week knowing that the circumstances you face with your child are intended for good.

PRAY:  Father, what Joseph suffered and my child suffers are both so wrong.  But You use those wrongs for good.  Help us to persist as Joseph did, remaining obedient to You and knowing that You are with us through it all.

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