From the title of this post, you might think it’s going to be about heaven. It isn’t. In my daily Bible reading, I came across a question that cut me to the quick: … am I in the place of God? (Gen 50:19) It hit me so hard is because my answer isn’t always what it should be. We all know the correct response is, “No!” But is that always reflected in our actions and reactions?
Let me set the Scriptural context. Joseph was the favorite son of his father Jacob, which he didn’t hide. So his eleven brothers were jealous of him. When they had the chance to take him out of the picture, they took it by selling him into slavery then leading their father to conclude he was killed by a wild animal. For the details of this account, you can check out Genesis 29:1-24, 37:1-36. Joseph lands in the home of a prominent Egyptian and does quite well until things take a turn and he ends up in jail.
During the first thirty years of Joseph’s life he was hated and betrayed by those closest to him, falsely accused and punished for doing the right and moral thing (Gen 39), then promised something he basically earned but was forgotten and left to rot in prison for two more years (Gen 40). Not such a great life. But then things turned around dramatically and he ended up as second in command of Egypt. And God used Joseph to put a plan in place that rescued countess lives from starvation from a devastating famine. Including his own family (Gen 41-47).
When they ran out of food, Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt to purchase some. Joseph recognized them but they had no idea who he was. He messed with them a bit but eventually revealed his identity and took care of them. Once their father died, they were afraid Joseph would pay them back for selling him into slavery so many years earlier. This was his response, found in Genesis 50:19-21: But 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. (ESV)
Joseph didn’t sugarcoat their actions against him. Yet he acknowledged God’s bigger plan in his life and the part their evil played in it. Who was he to judge them, when the Almighty brought incalculable good from their sin against and cruelty towards him? Joseph saw the big picture. He understood the sovereignty of His Heavenly Father. He rested in the all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful King of kings and Lord of Lords. He knew he wasn’t in the place of God.
How about you and me? When people wrong us or things don’t go our way. When devastating illness strikes out of nowhere or financial ruin comes upon us. When the promotion goes to someone else or a treasured relationship falls apart. Do we submit ourselves to the Lord and trust His overall plan? Or do we put ourselves in the place of God and believe we don’t deserve the hardship or complain that things shouldn’t be this way? May we take a page from Joseph’s life and surrender to the One Who loves us and holds us in the palm of His hand.
Just something that comforts and challenges me along the way.