The Lord God has revealed in his word, the Bible, that he is in charge of all things. He is sovereign; he is the Boss (Psalm 115:3; 135:5-6; Proverbs 16:4, 9; Isaiah 46:8-11; etc.). Listen to Romans 11:36: For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen (NIV). Providence is God’s direction and care of his creation. The story of Joseph is an important study of how God directs various events in our lives for his glory and the good of his people. Individual events can seem counterproductive to God’s plan; in fact, some seem wrong and we don’t like them. But we must wait in faith for God’s wise result.
In God’s providence, great changes can flow from apparently insignificant and benign events. We can plan to help others and even to advance the cause of God and truth, and then everything blows up in our faces. I know this from sad experience. And it hurts. But the Lord of all can be working a better plan. We see all of this in the life of Joseph.
The game changer for Joseph, his father, his family, and seriously for the whole world came from an act of concern by his father Jacob. Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.”
“Very well,” he replied. So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron (Genesis 37:12-14 NIV).
Compassion and prudence directed this plan. On Jacob’s part, he was concerned for the welfare of his sons and their family’s possessions. On Joseph’s part, obedience to his father motivated him. Notice how determined Joseph was to carry out Jacob’s orders (37:14-17).
However, right motives could not prevent trouble. Jacob was seemingly unaware of the hatred of his ten older sons for Joseph. He might have known there was no love lost between them, but he didn’t realize how thoroughly jealousy ruled their hearts. We have to face the truth that loving parents are rarely the best judges of their children’s character. We love them very much, so that we fail to see what they actually are and do.
Joseph walked on the path of obedience. He honored God by his choice. But the next events demonstrate that neither faith nor good character are shields against trouble. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12 NIV). Watch out for the trap of second guessing a correct course of action when trouble comes during it and after it. You can do the right thing and experience much grief. Please make God’s glory rather than your happiness the standard of your actions.
Grace and peace, David