When We’re At The Mercy Of Others

And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.?

So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.? And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.? For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest.? And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.? So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.” Genesis 45:3-8

Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery, and he wound up spending many years in an Egyptian prison. His brothers had told their father he’d been killed by a wild animal, and never bothered to correct their story with him. ?Now after many years a famine has driven them to seek help in Egypt. ?And guess who’s the second most powerful man in the land?

When Joseph reveals himself to his brothers they are “dismayed at his presence.” “Dismayed” is probably putting it mildly ? I imagine they were terrified, thinking Joseph would probably have them tortured, beheaded or thrown into prison themselves. ?And he’d have every right and reason to.

Can you imagine how stunned they must have been to hear these words – “And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life”? ?

Joseph wasn’t bitter or vengeful. Why not? Because he had a high view of God’s sovereignty. ?He didn’t deny his brothers’ sin ? “you sold me here.” But he knew that God worked their sin for the good of many ? “to preserve life.”

“And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. ?So it was not you who sent me here, but God.”

Wait a minute! Earlier Joseph said his brothers sold him into Egypt. Now he says it was not them who sent him here but God. ?So who sent him? Both. But ULTIMATELY, God had. Even when his brothers betrayed him they were fulfilling God’s plan. God never makes anyone sin, but he uses men’s sins to accomplish his purposes. He works ALL things – even wickedness -? together for good.

So often we feel at the mercy of others and helpless to do a thing about it. ?We feel controlled by an ungodly boss, neighbor, spouse, relative, or government. We can be tempted to despair or grumble.

But like Joseph we must realize that ULTIMATELY God is in control. It doesn’t FEEL like God is in control, but he is.

People will sin against us, hurt us, do bad things to us. I guarantee it. And when it happens, that’s when we need to remember WHO is in control. And that God is using our affliction for good. He will somehow use our pain to benefit not only us but most likely many others.

So what do we do? TRUST God. We can ask God to deliver us.? We can also try to change our circumstances if we can. Joseph tried to get put of prison when he interpreted the cupbearer’s dream. ?He asked him to remember him when he was released from prison. The cupbearer promptly forgot. Joseph’s attempt to get out of prison failed, yet he continued to trust God. ?So we can change our circumstances as much as it’s up to us, but even if nothing changes, we must continue to trust God.

God is sovereign, infinitely loving and infinitely wise. He is in control, loves us more deeply than we can imagine, and always does the right thing. ?The government isn’t in ultimate control.? Neither is your boss, your parents or spouse.? God is in control.? And will do amazing things through your “out of control” circumstances.

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.