Living by Hindsight or Faith?
by Andy Cokayne 29 November 2021
Joseph was now a powerful man in Egypt, his family had come from Canaan, where the famine was still severe, and settled in Egypt. After living 17 years in Egypt, Jacob dies and is gathered to his people. After a period of mourning, and the burial of Jacob, Joseph’s brothers fear that now their father is gone, Joseph will take the opportunity and exact revenge on them for the evil they had done to him years before. Out of jealousy, they had thrown him into a pit, before selling him into slavery, where he had eventually ended up in Egypt. They had returned to their father Jacob, and told him that Joseph had been eaten by a wild animal. Now, they thought, was the chance for Joseph to get revenge. So understandably they approach him with fear, sending a message that their father had left a request that he forgive his brothers for the sins and wrongs they had committed in treating him so badly. When they appear before Joseph in person they throw themselves down in front of him crying “We are your slaves”.
Joseph responds “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Joseph could have harboured hate for what his brothers had done to him, and taken due revenge. But instead Joseph could look back and see that being taken into Egypt was part of God’s plan. God had sent Joseph ahead into Egypt, in order to save the lives of many Egyptians, and the lives of his own family. Joseph could look back and see God’s hand at work in his life.
Soren Kierkegaard the 19th century Danish philosopher and theologian wrote ‘Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards’. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, if only we could live by it. But of course we can only live our lives going forward, just occasionally God allows us to look back and see how he has been at work in our lives and brought us to where we are now. We can be paralised by our anxiety and fear, to be over anxious about the future; worry whether God is going to be with us; worry whether we will be able to cope with what is thrown at us. Romans 8 v28 reads ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ Be encouraged God is with, and will remain with us, his hand is at work, no one thwarts God’s plan.
Father God, enable us to look back and see how your hand has been at work in our lives to bring about your greater plan, and how you continue to mould us into your disciples. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
Great are you Lord - Casting Crowns
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