Jul 4, 2011, 1:50 PM
I guess you have come across this biblical verse a number of times and you probably would have claimed it in your circumstances after God had granted you an unexpected favour. Well, in this world we cannot say that all that will happen to us as Christians can be termed good. The world is evil and the devil’s footprints confirm his active search for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) However, God guarantees us that anything – not just isolated incidents – any evil intention, every trap the devil would set with a view to destroy us, He will turn into our good.
Such an assurance is not addressed to just any and everybody though; only those who truly love God can get such attention. Turning a bad situation into a good one should mean making a desperate situation favourable; rendering the devil’s fiery darts inoffensive. God intervenes in order to work out His purpose in our lives.
God can use what the devil intended to confound us with, to deflate our moral or even kill us and turn it to our favour so that His name will be glorified.
God chooses those whom He would work with – those He has ‘called.’ Again, the category is made specific. Only ‘the called-ones’ qualify. These are the ones He would stick his neck out for. They are those for whom God will break His back, as it were. For this reason only can we claim this privilege. It is the sign of a special relationship one has with God – the reason why He will step out to deflect the blow or disrupt the action. God is willing to make a move on our behalf all because we have manifested our unflinching love towards Him.
A cursory look at the life of Joseph, the son of the patriarch Jacob, clearly demonstrates what happens when God “… works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Joseph was not loved by his brothers for two reasons: he was the blue-eyed boy of his father “because he had been born to him in his old age; and he had made a richly ornamented robe for him.” (Genesis 37:3) and secondly, they could not stomach him because he annoyed them with his dreams about one day being in a position that would make them subordinate to him. “Listen to this dream I had: we were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” (Genesis 37:7) “Listen, I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” (Genesis 37:9) A dreamer indeed! His problems with his brothers stemmed from that revelation.
While on his father’s mission to enquire about the welfare of his brothers - who were shepherding the sheep, they saw it as an opportunity to get rid of him. The plan was: “Let’s kill him, and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” (Genesis 37:20) The plan was foiled when one of his brothers Reuben pleaded not to kill him, but rather to dump him in the cistern (well).
The plan changed a second time when Judah one of his brothers suggested:“What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” (verse 26-27) A consensus was reached and Joseph was sold to the Midianite merchants for twenty shekels of silver. Joseph was taken to Egypt.
By all intents and purposes, Joseph and his dreams would have bitten the dust; but God used Reuben and Judah to thwart the evil plots of their brothers. Joseph was not killed but in the eyes of his kindred ‘the dreamer’ had been gotten rid of. By selling him into slavery, they did not realise they were setting up Joseph for the fulfilment of God’s planned elevation for him or serving as instruments of God’s plan. Out of sight, Joseph was going to evolve far away from their envious eyes even though they considered him dead.
In Egypt, Joseph was sold to Potiphar – one of Pharaoh’s officials. There Joseph prospered. Not only did he reside with his Egyptian master but he enjoyed favour beyond his wildest expectations.
God’s plans cannot be frustrated either by the devil or his agents – in this instance Joseph’s brothers. Sometimes, needless to look further, the obstacles to our personal development and elevation are from our very kith and kin who yearn to see our downfall instead of our progress. By selling Joseph, the brothers had unknowingly brought him closer to the realisation of his dream. On landing in Egypt he already was rubbing shoulders with people in high places.
Joseph became a blessing to Potiphar to the extent that he put Joseph in charge of his household and all that he owned. His master saw that “the Lord was with him and the Lord gave him success in everything that he did.”
By falsely accusing Joseph, Potiphar’s wife tried to put a spoke in Joseph’s wheel but succeeded only in catapulting him into prison in readiness for the next stage that would bring him in touch with Pharaoh, the king, himself. Whilst there, he found only favour among the officials and mates. The prison cell became a springboard for the final launch into stardom.
Pharaoh had a dream that only Joseph could unravel. He provided a plan as well. “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God? (Genesis 41:38) Joseph did not owe any of his achievements to his intelligence but he leaned on God throughout. Every obstacle in Joseph’s way became a stepping stone for God to show Himself strong.
Pharaoh in person commended Joseph thus: “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.” (Genesis 41:39-40)
All Joseph did was to love God sincerely and God honoured him. Emulating Joseph’s spirit could take us very far.