God Meant It For Good (Gen 50:20)

Ever wondered: “What is going on?” “What is God doing?” “Why is God letting this happen?” “I don’t u’stand this…” “Why Me? Why This? Why Now?”

I have 3 goals: Increase understanding of God… Understand our life trajectory… & Encourage others in their struggles. Three lines of thought: 1) Joseph’s Story, 2) My Story, 3) Your Story… First Joseph.

Joseph was 17 in Gen 32:7. His family dysfunction resulted in God acting to redeem them, keep many alive, & perpetuate the Messianic line so Christ would be born for our salvation!

Joseph was attacked by his brothers who wanted to kill him. Instead they sold him to Midianites, who sold him to Potipher in Egypt, whose wife falsely accused him of rape. He was put in prison & forgotten by men who promised to get him out. (Pause) We’re now 13 years in Joseph’s timeline…

When Joseph was 30, he was elevated to 2nd in power in Egypt.[i] Then began 7 yrs of plenty as grain was stored up to prepare for 7 yrs of famine.[ii] At some point, Joseph’s brothers came asking for grain. By then Joseph was at maybe 44 when life started making sense! Now think

It is difficult to find mention of God from Gen 32:7 to 50:19. It isn’t recorded God revealed to Joseph His purposes. For 13 yrs Joseph endured evil & God was silent. Joseph was 17 when his troubles began and no resolution until he was at least 44. God’s work took 27 years! For almost 3 decades Joseph suffered. Yet he trusted God & said to his brothers what is written in Gen 50:20

“You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…”

At this point I want to illustrate personally SO THAT you can reflect & see God’s hand in your life as much as it is obvious to us in Joseph’s life! Yes… as much as in JOSEPH’S LIFE!

My grandmother was born & grew up in Florida. My grandfather was born & grew up in Arkansas. They met & married in Columbus, Georgia. My dad grew up in Columbus & went to Auburn before transferring to Howard College in Birmingham. My mom grew up outside Oneonta, AL before moving to Birmingham as a teen. Mom & dad met at a bowling alley in Bessemer, AL… & eventually eloped (17 & 22 yrs old).

They lived in Tuskegee… I was born in Columbus & we moved to Ft. Payne, AL. At age 7, we moved to Birmingham. I must skip a lot here: Dad dabbled in the occult… alcoholic… parent’s divorce… et al.

I almost married a girl from High School (NOT GOOD!), but God sent me to USM to play football. Got serious about a girl there (NOT GOOD!). Called to preach at a KAR one summer.[iii] Knee injury, left USM, went to Samford in Birmingham (Only place dad would pay for education!). At Samford…

Life Comment: “God has called me to preach.” Pam, “God has called me to be a minister’s wife!” Married… NOBTS… 3 children… served unusual congregations (1st 3 fired the Pastor prior to me… another, the one after… another one the Pastor, Youth, & Music 18 months before me).

So many other story lines, unusual events, difficulties I don’t have time for… (BOOK!). Son sick, depression, Church pressures, family issues, etc… etc.

I hope you’ve reflected on your life… from before your birth. My guess is there are twists & turns you’ve heard others talk about you never considered God’s hand in them. Unexplained events in your parent’s life… your life… or that of your spouse. Think about “what if” events. What if something hadn’t happened… or something else would’ve happened? Your life would be different.

Consider those were NOT random events… but part of God’s plan hidden from you as much as it was from Joseph! Consider two verses…

Ro 8:28, “God causes all things (How many?) to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Eph 1:11, “God works all things (How many?) after the counsel of His will…”

The best way to understand Scripture is the simplest way. Take God at His Word. Believe Him as He inspired it to be written! Pr 3:5… “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding…” God has a plan for your life HE is working out! Nothing is random…

Phil 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Phil 2:13 For it is God who is at work in you, both to will & to work for His good pleasure.

Here is the point I want you to get. There are three reasons for every Christian’s life events…

God’s glory…

God is conforming you to the image of Christ (Ro 8:29)…

God is laying up treasures for you in heaven.

SINCE THOSE THINGS ARE TRUE, consider the following passage. Turn to Ro 8:31

If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us ALL things?

Here’s how to pull all I’ve said thus far together with Ro 8:31-32. Because you are God’s child… & b/c He loves you… if something is good for you, He will allow it into your life. If it isn’t good for you… He won’t. And nothing can change that… Because HE LOVES YOU!

Are you a believer? If so, know this: God is powerfully involved in your life… for your ultimate good & His glory! Nothing surprises Him. Nothing occurs He does not have control of. And,“Just b/c you don’t see how something can be good doesn’t mean it isn’t good!”

Did Joseph u’stand all the things that happened in his life AS they were happening? I doubt it. Did he struggle emotionally & spiritually? Probably! Were there times he was confused & doubted? Good chance the answer is yes. And it is the same for us!!

But the day came when he u’stood. He saw God’s hand & embraced it. That’s what I desire for us. To see God’s hand in our life IN THE MOMENT rather than retrospect. How? By knowing God is always there… He will never leave nor abandon us… He is ALWAYS working for His glory & our Good. (Pause) But HOW DO WE EMBRACE THAT IN THE MOMENT?

By getting into the Scripture & pushing it’s truth deep into our hearts. By asking God thru prayer to help us trust Him & increase our faith. “I believe… HELP MY UNBELIEF!” (Mk 9:24).

Here’s what I know… in a group this size, some are struggling. Some hurt. Some are confused. Some doubt. You wonder why your life is the way it is & why the things that have happened HAVE happened! The answers are as follows…

God loves you! He IS working for your good & His glory… whether you see it or not! No matter what your heart tells you, believe God… Believe His Word!

It is written in 2 Cor 5:7… “We (live) by faith, not by sight…” That’s you. That’s me. By & large God’s hand is hidden from us as much as it was from Joseph for decades. But that doesn’t mean God isn’t there or working!

Are you afraid? Don’t be. God is ever present, active, & working! Are you doubting? Trust God and lean not on your own u’standing. Are you struggling? Look to God! He is near… He is working… He is by your side. He has PROMISED to never leave nor forsake you!

The day WILL come when your life events will make sense… from God’s perspective! Flee to Him. Believe Him. Trust Him…

[i] Genesis 41:46

[ii] Genesis 41:34-36

[iii] King’s Arrow Ranch of Campus Crusade for Christ in Lumberton, MS.