“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them. [Genesis 50:20-21 (NLT)]
The above words were spoken by Joseph to his brothers—the men who planned on killing him until greed entered into it and they sold him into slavery for twenty pieces of silver. In retrospect, God’s plan made sense to Joseph but what about the thirteen years he spent between being thrown into a cistern like a piece of trash and becoming second in command to Pharaoh? Was Jacob’s beloved son so confident of God’s plan while standing on the slave auction block in Egypt? What about when he was unjustly accused of rape by Potiphar’s wife? He may have been the warden’s favorite prisoner, but he languished in jail for a crime he refused to commit! What did he think of God’s plan then? When Pharaoh’s cup-bearer was restored to his former position, Joseph’s hopes rose only to have them dashed when the man forgot about his cell mate for another two years. Did Joseph ever doubt? Did he ever ask, “Where’s God in all of this?”
I thought of Joseph’s words after praying for a toddler who is fighting a losing battle with metastasized cancer. In terrible pain, her physicians are running out of treatment options. “Where is God in all of this?” I wondered. “What good can possibly come from it?” If I’m asking these questions, I know her family must be asking them as well. As they watch their daughter suffer, do they ever wonder if God has abandoned them? In retrospect, maybe it will make sense someday. Perhaps the knowledge the toddler’s oncologists glean from her treatment will save some other child. Who knows? Right now, however, her parents can’t look back—they can only look forward and the future is bleak.
It’s times like these that call for faith and hope. God didn’t walk away from us when He finished with creation and He hasn’t walked away from us now. He is still here—at large and in charge! No matter how desolate the circumstances appear, God has not forgotten, abandoned or ignored us.
If I truly believe God is good and in control, I must trust in His inexplicable plan. I believe He is gently holding this little girl and wiping her tears. I believe He is standing with His arms around her worried parents as they stand beside her and that He’s guiding the hospital staff as they insert IVs and search for ways to save her precious life. I know His Holy Spirit is giving voice to my silent prayers for her.
In retrospect, Joseph saw God’s purpose in all he endured. Whether or not we will ever understand God’s actions regarding this beautiful child, I don’t know. From Joseph’s story, we know that God can reroute evil to accomplish good. God was there for Joseph and He’s there for this little girl and her family. He is present; we’re just having trouble seeing Him. Open our eyes, O Lord, open our eyes.
We want Christ to hurry and calm the storm. He wants us to find Him in the midst of it first. [Beth Moore]