You Meant Evil, God Meant Good
Israel has just died – a pinnacle and tragic moment for the story of God’s people. God has brought them into safety, but not without some torment. Specifically, Joseph – Israel’s favorite son, was beaten by his brothers and thrown into a pit. His life as the favorite son was absolutely trounced and upended all in one moment. But he was spared his life. He found his way to the highest place in all Egypt! What a comeback! And then his brothers and father, during a severe famine, made their way to Egypt to seek safety from starvation, where Israel is laid to rest.
Of course, the brothers are now scared that Joseph will punish them for their abuse and torture of him as a child. But Joseph is not like most younger brothers. He is not like most PEOPLE. Here’s why:
All of us have trauma from our past, just like Joseph. And we live it out in our present. I am no different – I react, and recoil from the triggers that go off whenever I am reminded of some painful memory (even if I don’t consciously remember what originally caused the pain.)
We may know that what we’re doing in reaction to today’s event is disproportionately elevating the importance of today’s event (“You left the socks on the floor AGAIN!!???!?”) We tell ourselves lies about ourselves, (“No one cares about me, just look at those socks on the floor!”) about God, (“What kind of God would create a world where socks are left on the floor!?”) and about those we close to us.
All of it is drawing on early life experiences, where demons have crept into our fragile, innocent hearts and replaced the truth with lies, clarity with deception.
But somehow – Joseph was able to overcome all that. It was certainly a trauma for him to be thrown by his own brothers into that pit, but as he faces his brothers in Genesis 50:20 he declares,
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
This is supernatural healing! This is the return from darkness, and into light! Some people in Joseph’s place might have made it out of that pit physically, but mentally and spiritually they allow themselves to remain stuck in that pit for the rest of their lives. To make matters worse, they won’t rest until everyone is in that pit with them!
My question is: “Are traumas and the resulting “triggers” permanent, or can we overcome them?”
I have to rely on God’s Word here, and throughout the Bible – we can return from darkness, trauma, pain, and move to light, freedom, and salvation. This is the “working out of our salvation,” the “binding up the strong man,” the Satan speaking lies in our hearts. And yet, if we try to do this salvation work on our own, if we set out to “bind the strong man” we will lose! We will end in frustration (others had to help Joseph out of his pit, and beyond human intervention, and God was there guiding Joseph forward).
But maybe the most important part of Joseph’s tale is how he views his own story. He knows that it wasn’t his doing that got him to where he is today, it was “God who meant it for good…” Out of this new narrative, Joseph is able to “speak kindly” to his brothers, the very ones who had plotted his destruction many years ago. Joseph was able to see clearly, while his brothers were still trapped in fear of their brother’s punishment. Joseph saw that God had used a horrific situation and used it to bring hope and healing to many people during a drastic famine.
Take stock of your memories. Mark my words, they are taking stock of you.
Take your painful experiences to the LORD, and ask him to give you new lenses through which to view your story!
It’s the difference of giving hope and life to many others, or sitting stuck in your own pit.