A few days ago in a thoughtful phone conversation with me, my friend wondered aloud, “How will we recover from this? Will our economy ever bounce back?” It’s a valid question in light of the unprecedented stream of events our world is experiencing. What new habits are we as a society developing that will outlast the coronavirus? How are the decisions being made by our governments and health professionals shape our future? What jobs will be left when all is said and done, and what new jobs will be created? It was a sobering conversation my friend and I had, but it was also throbbing with hope.
Yes, that’s right. Hope.
Those of us who are anchored in the goodness of Jesus’ nature know that He is working all things for good—every deed, every disaster, every triumph, every tragedy. He is weaving each strand together to create the most elaborately stunning showcase for His glory and kindness.
I personally am wrapping up reading through the biography of Joseph as recorded in Genesis. It’s a perfect—perfect—example of God’s sovereignty. At the end of his life, Joseph said to his brothers, “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). Why don’t we take a closer look at how the faithfulness of our God was outworked in this man’s storied life?
God is faithful through the folly of the past.
We see in Scripture that Joseph was a tattle-tale (Genesis 37:2). We can also read between the lines that Joseph was a bit of a braggart and riddled with pride. Look, when young Joseph shared with his father the dream for his life God has placed in him, his father was offended (37:10). His father Jacob—as in, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It’d have to be something pretty egregious for this patriarch of our faith to be offended, considering all the humbling Jacob endured. Normally a father would be overjoyed if his son shared a big dream with him. This just goes to demonstrate the haughty attitude with which Joseph shared his dreams.
But what did God do? God did not revoke His blessing from Joseph’s life, nor did He change His mind about the good end He had in store. Yes, God took Joseph through a decades-long humbling process, but God’s faithfulness outweighed Joseph’s folly. If you have a past you aren’t proud of, you are in good company. Was it an addiction? A bad decision? A broken relationship? Listen, Your past is not bigger than the sovereignty of God. The truth is that He will redeem your whole life, including your past, to write a beautiful story. “And we know that in all things”—even our past sins—“God works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28).
God is faithful through betrayal.
Joseph’s pride didn’t justify what happened next: his jealous brothers trafficked him into slavery! What a horrific turn of events! Being forced to work to the bone, perhaps being brutalized along the way, is a nightmare enough—but at the hand of your own family? What an unspeakable thing.
For millions around the world, human trafficking is an atrocious reality—but no matter the scale of the trickery, all of us have experienced betrayal to some degree. Even Jesus suffered betrayal. Relationship experts tell us that the pain of betrayal by a loved one is the worst sort of wound. Perhaps as you read these words, your memory takes you back to a certain moment in time where you felt the sting of betrayal. Yet through it all, Joseph’s life reminds us that betrayal is not the end. No experience is wasted, and God is incorporating that into His process of delivering goodness and mercy to you! “And we know that in all things”—even betrayal—“God works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28).
God is faithful through a ruined reputation.
Eventually Joseph was traded away to the house of Potiphar, the captain of the guard for Pharaoh himself. And we know the famous story: Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph. (As an interesting side note, I learned recently that Potiphar was likely a eunuch so that his potential sons would not rise up against Pharaoh. This may explain why his wife was especially eager to have handsome Joseph nearby!) Anyway, Joseph rebuffed her sexual advances, and to save face, she levelled one of the most detrimental lies that could be made against him: that he tried to rape her. This allegation landed Joseph in prison.
Every so often, you read in the news about someone who was wrongfully imprisoned. Those stories just break my heart. And there are some allegations made against people that, even though they may be false, can seem to permanently damage credibility. Of course, for every person who has a false allegation made against him or her, there is a person who has ruined his own reputation through poor decision-making or even sin. But can I let you in on a secret? God’s faithfulness is bigger than a ruined reputation. He has the final word, not the whispers of busybodies. Examine the life of Joseph: God actually used a ruined reputation for His ultimate glory, because a so-called ruined reputation may in fact be a divine setup. “And we know that in all things”—even a ruined reputation—“God works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28).
God is faithful through forgottenness.
While in prison, Joseph used the spiritual gift of dream-interpreting to meet the needs of some fellow prisoners, but when they were promoted, he was still left behind.
All of us have experienced feeling overlooked. Maybe someone less qualified than you got the promotion. Or maybe you suffer through loneliness night after night. Perhaps you’ve been praying for breakthrough for years and years on end, and it seems like even God has forgotten you. Precious friend, this is not so. You may feel forgotten, but can I be frank with you? Feelings can lie to us. Feelings don’t always reflect truth. Here’s the truth: God has not forgotten you. He has not grown weary of you and left you alone. And He has certainly not left you behind by accident. He stores up all your precious tears (Psalm 56:8). He daily bears all your burdens (Psalm 68:19). And you can count on this immovable fact, that the sovereignty of God has ordained something glorious for you. When God says, “No,” it’s because He’s saving you for a great, big, “YES!” And that “YES!” will be sweeter and better than all those other opportunities. Let Joseph’s life testify that to you. “And we know that in all things”—even forgottenness—“God works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28).
God is faithful—period.
Maybe you’ve experienced a loss, a foul event, or a burden that isn’t directly found in Joseph’s life. No matter. Let Joseph’s life still preach the unshakable faithfulness of God to you!
“Let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You” Psalm 5:11).
“You, Lord, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked” (Psalm 12:7).
“You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance” Psalm 32:7).
“For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does” (Psalm 33:4).
“Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies” (Psalm 36:5).
“He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me—God sends forth His love and faithfulness” (Psalm 57:3).
“But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15).
“Who is like You, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and Your faithfulness surrounds you” (Psalm 89:8).
“He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart” (Psalm 91:4).
“For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 100:5).
“For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord” (Psalm 117:2).
So, my prayer is that your life in this season, much like the conversation I had with my friend, would be throbbing with hope! Pulsing with an expectation that God will explode goodness in your situation! God has not loosened the grip He has on His covenant of love with you, His covenant of forgiveness, His covenant of compassion. He’s been ever-faithful, and He will remain ever-faithful.