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.

Genesis 50:20 (ESV)

The verse above is often compared to Romans 8:28 where Paul tells his readers that “all things work for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”  Generally speaking, it is true that God takes all our experiences, good and bad, and uses them to not only build our faith in Him, but to also demonstrate to the world how He is faithful in the darkest of circumstances. However, this verse from Genesis where Joseph, now the second most powerful man in Egypt, confronts his brothers for the first time after their attempt to kill him, touches an entirely different emotion in our spiritual growth.

It is one thing to see God’s hand of providence in a bad medical diagnosis, a car accident, a broken relationship or even the heartbreaking loss of a loved one. Even in our grief, our faith can help us embrace such a moment as being one of the “all things” that Paul spoke of. Joseph’s situation is somehow different. Being dropped in a pit and later sold into slavery was not an accident. He was the victim of a murderous plot contrived by those who should have loved him the most. In his tumultuous journey from the pit to the palace of Pharoah, he did not have the benefit of Paul’s words to give him comfort. He had only his faith in the promise God had given him to somehow believe his story would end well.

Bitterness can choke the life out of a dream. Joseph had plenty of time to allow bitterness to erode his faith. Not only did he not give in, but he came to realize that his brothers’ plan to do him harm provided the means for the dream God gave him to become a reality.  The idea that someone could betray us or otherwise intentionally do us harm can so distract us that our faith in God’s promises become secondary to the bitterness that we continue to carry. It’s a great day when we realize that what was done to us might have been purely evil, but God meant it for good!