I have been reading the story of Joseph from Genesis again in the past few days. Each time I paused for breath – at the end of each chapter – I started to think about what the expectations of the various people in the story were in the midst of the events they were living.
I have no doubt Joseph, when he was sold into slavery by his brothers (which was better than the other option they were considering) expected that his life was pretty much over. Later in the story, his life takes a different turn and he becomes arguably the second most powerful person in the world, second only to Pharaoh.
When his brothers find out that he is alive and has the power to do anything he wanted with them, they expect vengeance.
Jacob expected to never see his son again, believing that Joseph was dead.
All reasonable expectations given the situations, yet none of their expectations came to pass because of one important thing – something that Joseph realizes and explains in his statement to his brothers: ‘what you intended for evil God intended for good’.
Then comes Exodus. We often read Genesis and Exodus as two different books, but really, they are part of the same story. Exodus makes a lot more sense if we continue reading on from Genesis 50 instead of stopping.
It occurs to me that what Joseph says in the end of Genesis still rings true in the beginning of Exodus. That the expectation that God is good, and that God is intending it all for good, is still just as true and reliable in Exodus as it is in Genesis. And it is equally true now.
You see, God is good in all situations, both the comfortable and the uncomfortable. We may not understand our situations sometimes, and I am not for a moment saying that God is pleased with all situations – sometimes we are the recipients of consequences for others’ bad choices, much like Joseph was both for his brothers’ choices and for Mrs. Potiphar’s choices.
Sometimes people or situations let us down and disappoint us.
In spite of this, we can reasonably expect that God’s intention is for good even when people’s intentions are somewhat less. Even when people’s actions are less than honorable or less than good, God’s actions are always good. And in all of life, this gives me great hope because if we trust God and rely on Him – if He is the one who is holding us up – then no-one and nothing can let us down.