Zoom out!

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.”

Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 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. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” Genesis 45:3-8; 50:19-21

While Joseph was occupied with the day to day management of Pharaoh’s kingdom, and orchestrated events with his brothers from Israel to bring them to repentance for their cruel mistreatment, he never lost sight of his God who had been, and was then, working all things for His redemptive good. As conniving and manipulative as they had been, it was God who superintended the sale of Joseph into slavery, his unjust imprisonment, and his elevation to power under Pharaoh at this time. His purposes cannot be thwarted. (Isaiah 14:27; Job 42:2; Romans 8:28)

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In the pit, in his master’s home, in his cell, in famine, Joseph was trained not to get tangled in the web of present difficulties, but to zoom out and watch Almighty God at work. He experienced cruelty, anguish, loneliness, and longing, but in keeping his focus on his Lord, not his circumstances, he learned to rest in God’s greater plan and trust His sovereign order and control. (Genesis 41:51-52; 42:21; Psalm 105:17-19; Acts 7:9-10)

What change will it take to move from ‘woe is me’ to ‘what is He?’ What is He doing in the world, in my community, with my life? How does He want me involved, and where can I employ my particular vantage point, unique position, and resources for His kingdom purposes? Like a camera shifting from up close focus to zooming out, when we take our eyes off the immediate and urgent, off of ourselves, we see Him and His ways more clearly.

Joseph had every reason to be bitter, to take advantage of his power over the brothers who had wronged him, but he chose to see the big picture as God saw and determined it. His difficult circumstances became a significant part of God’s grand scheme in preserving His people and word for the world.

Father, teach me to step back, refocus to behold Your wide plans, and participate gladly in them for Your glorious purposes.

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