Don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place.
It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.
Genesis 45:5 (NLT)
Go Deep: Useful idiots! That’s what I would call Joseph’s brothers.
Twenty-two years after they had sold him into slavery, the brothers are now standing before Joseph, and they don’t even recognize him. They have been blinded by two decades of thinking he had long since died, their perspective jaded by the haunting fear, guilt and shame of what they had done. (Genesis 44:16) Finally, it is time for the big reveal, and the expected reaction would be that he would now exact revenge, make them pay dearly, and do to them what they had done to him.
But Joseph was cut from a different cloth than these lousy brothers. His submission to the sovereignty of God allowed him to see the pain they had inflicted not merely through his own perspective alone, but through a perspective that saw God working through their evil actions. Joseph recognized that in all the circumstances of life, big and small, good and bad, God had been inexorably bringing the currents of his personal history to a providential conclusion.
Joseph’s submission to the sovereignty of God is revealed three times as he discloses himself to his brothers with words to this effect: “Don’t beat yourself up; it was God, not you, who sent me here. You had a plan and God had a plan, and God’s plan trumped yours. You were simply unwitting but useful instruments in his hands.” (Genesis 45:5,7,8). Joseph’s brothers might have been idiots for selling him into slavery twenty-two years before, but they were useful idiots in the hands of the Providential Ruler of all mankind.
The bottom line to Joseph’s story is that God is in control. He turns what is meant for evil to our good, extracts glory for himself even in the most impossible circumstances, and no matter what, always, always, always fulfills his sovereign purposes. His is in control! His is the Sovereign God of the universe, the Providential Ruler over the affairs, big and small, of all mankind, the Incomparable One who works all things for his glory.
And here’s the kicker: He works all things not only for his own glory—but for your good! That’s right—for your good. Now why would the Sovereign, Providential, Incomparable One bother with little old you? Simply because you’ve surrendered your life to him; and when you did that, you, perhaps even unwittingly, signed up to be on his sovereign plan.
So here’s the deal: If you have a few idiots making your life difficult, just remember, in God’s hands they are useful idiots.
Just Saying… Perhaps, like Joseph, people close to you have deeply hurt you. To trust that God will use what was hurtful for his glory and your good may be the hardest thing in the world for to do right now—but do it anyway. To grow bitter and withhold forgiveness is not only to discount the Sovereignty of God, it is to activity work against it—and that is always bad for you. As Anne Lamont says, “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” So don’t be a rat.