As I’ve been working through the first month of this year’s Bible reading plan, I’m once again going through Genesis, encountering the story of Joseph.
Sold into slavery by his brothers, imprisoned, ultimately freed and placed over all of Egypt because of his gift of interpreting dreams.
Saving his family in time.
In Genesis 50, we hear his response to his brothers:
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.
God meant it for good.
We struggle with this a lot as Christians. Our circumstances very often define us. The trials we’re going through leave us lacking hope and feeling abandoned by life itself sometimes.
“Good” Christians often try to encourage us with the tales of Joseph, or standard verses like Romans 8:28.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Given time and perspective, usually we can look back and see how “God meant [our trials] for good”, just as Joseph did. But in the moment?
Tales like this and well-intentioned “encouragement” often feels just like wishful thinking. Maybe that’s lack of faith.
But it’s exactly how people in pain respond.
“Psh.” “Whatever.” “God doesn’t really care.” “You may see hope, but I don’t.” “Good luck with that.” “I may know that in my head, but not my heart right now.”
People in trials need your presence. They need to know that you care. They need to know they’re not abandoned in their time of need. They need to know that no matter what they’re going through, they’re still loved.
They need more than your words.
As I read a few quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. earlier this week in reflection of his remarkable life, I was struck by one of the statements he’d made:
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
It’s not simply the trials that hurt. It’s not simply the attacks of the enemy or the impacts they have on our lives.
It’s the fact that very often, during those times, we simply feel all alone.
Hopeless. Unwanted. Uncared for.
Which, yes… is anything but the truth when it comes to God.
But Christians? While God is rarely physically sensed, we can be. And with humanity existing as physical beings as well as spiritual, we need that physical connection that only presence can bring to one another.
Be there for those that need you. Bring a bit of heaven into the hellish situations our friends and families often encounter.
Be a bringer of hope that enables the words of Scripture not only to ring true from an intellectual perspective to those in need, but a practical one.
Perhaps then, people can truly see how “God meant it for good”.
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