Today’s Reading: Genesis 37-50
God’s will or God’s plan?
This morning, I read Genesis 37-50 – the story of Joseph’s life from start to finish. Joseph’s life was affected time and time again by the sinful decisions of others, but God was NEVER uninvolved. Joseph’s brothers sinned against him out of jealousy when they sold him into captivity, but God did not abandon Joseph.
A lot of good came out of the rest of Joseph’s life, even though the trajectory of his life was changed when his brothers sold him into slavery. It wasn’t God’s perfect will for Joseph to be sinned against, separated from his family, and sold into slavery – yet God’s plan was to use it for good. Genesis 39:2-4
The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. – Genesis 39:2-4
It wasn’t God’s perfect will for Potiphar’s wife to lust after Joseph and lie about his integrity, causing Joseph to spend years in prison, but God’s plan was to use it for good.
But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. – Genesis 39:20b-22
It was also the result of Joseph’s time in prison that he interpreted the dream of the chief cupbearer, who eventually told Pharoah of Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams. As a result of Joseph’s interpretation of Pharoah’s dreams, the lives of many were saved from the devastating famine – including his own family.
Joseph speaks to this after his father’s death, when his brothers threw themselves down in repentance before him saying, “We are your slaves.”
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 50:19-20
This may be where some of us disagree theologically but allow me to share where I stand. I do not believe it is God’s will that anyone should sin or be sinned against, yet God is NEVER without a plan because He loves us and He wants everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). HE MAKES BEAUTIFUL THINGS come out of the sinful actions of man. When we are wronged or sinned against or suffer the consequences of our own sins, God has not abandoned us nor does He plan to. Instead he works out this BEAUTIFUL PLAN OF REDEMPTION in the midst of this sinful world. God does not will for us to sin but neither is He surprised by it. He stills plans HOPE for our future.
Is it God’s will that an unmarried woman gets pregnant? No, but God has a plan for that unborn baby and for its parents. Sometimes that plan involves blessing a couple struggling with infertility through adoption.
Is it God’s will that a man should leave his wife or that a wife should leave her husband? No, but God has a plan to bring the wayward spouse to repentance and He has a plan to bless the life of the one left to suffer the consequences of their spouse’s sin.
Is it God’s will when a drunk driver kills an innocent bystander? No, but God has a plan to provide healing for those who are left grieving and to use their healing to minister to others who have suffered loss.
Is it God’s will that America should consider it a woman’s right to end the life of her unborn baby? No, but God has a plan to use the sin of abortion to bring many to repentance. God has a plan to use individuals to reach out to those affected by abortion or considering abortion.
I love how the message parallels the NIV here: 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. – Genesis 50:19 (The Message)
Do I act for God? When I am sinned against or suffer the consequences of someone else’s sin, is it for me to refuse to forgive them? Do I act for God? Is it my right to question or be angry with God that He did not intervene and prevent the hurt? Do I act for God? God never leaves us or abandons us. We can trust in the God of this promise:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28