Wounded By Friendly Fire: God's Sovereignty
By Dot Bowen
Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. Genesis 37:5 (NIV)
Life always holds the possibility of being “wounded by friendly fire,” which is being hurt by people we once loved and trusted. There is a risk when we give our heart to someone that it may come back broken. When our need for communion with God and others is not met, we feel empty and alone. We often build walls of self-protection to prevent us from ever being hurt again. Self-protective walls become our prison to keep us in bondage and chained by fear. Eventually, we will focus more on being determined to never let anyone hurt us again than being free to love. To live freely, we must choose to forgive; forgiveness is a choice not a feeling. Choosing to forgive is not excusing someone’s behavior, it’s deciding to forgive in spite of their behavior. When we truly understand God has forgiven us, we are able to extend forgiveness to others.
Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son. Favoritism can cause many issues, but it led to lies, hurt, and betrayal in Joseph’s life. Joseph had every right to be bitter, but he chose to give up his right to be right to be close to his brothers. Joseph’s brothers were so jealous of him they wanted to kill him. Instead of killing him, they sold him to a band of Ishmaelite’s. After spending most of his childhood in prison and consistently being hurt by everyone around him, Joseph watched God use their evil intent as a tool to save his family and the Egyptian people from starvation.
God is aware of our broken hearts and the selfish and evil actions of others. And God uses the selfish and evil actions of others as a means to fulfill His great plan for your life. God never said all things are good, but He does say all things work toward our good. God used evil intent to move Joseph in a position of power. After many years in prison, Joseph faced his brothers without them realizing who he was. The way in which Joseph handled the confrontation with his brothers is as amazing as his survival of years of imprisonment. Joseph told his brothers, “I am your brother 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”. Are you kidding me?! Why wasn’t Joseph angry with his brothers? Why didn’t he want revenge?
We can learn from Joseph how not to allow other’s behavior dictate the outcome of our lives. How did Joseph protect his heart from the bondage of bitterness? Joseph looked past the evil intent of his brothers to the sovereignty and loving hand of God. God can use every hurt, betrayal, and lies as stepping-stones to lead us to the life we desire. When we focus on the power of God instead of our hurt, we take one step closer to fulfill the purpose of our life. It is possible for us to rise above our circumstances and rest in the power of God’s sovereignty. It’s not that we won’t be hurt, but we can choose not to allow others to rob us of our joy in life.
Joseph was thrown in a pit. The view from a pit can lead to despair or to determination not to allow the pit be our home. How did Joseph go from a pit-to-prison-to-ruler over Egypt? Joseph’s journey began at the hands of his jealous brothers, but God used their evil intent to prepare Joseph to rule a nation that would survive a famine. And if God needs to use evil intent to accomplish His purposes, He will! Has it ever occurred to you God wants to use your painful experiences to move you to the perfect place for you? God uses all things as opportunities to give you the life you were created to live. At one point in Joseph’s life, it appeared his brothers were in control. But when Joseph looked back over his life, it was obvious God was always in control. And the same is true for us! No one can outwit or outsmart God! We were created for God, and He has the perfect plan for our lives. And if God needs to use the evil intent of others to give us our heart’s desire, He will! Joseph was a dreamer, and God fulfilled His dreams. Will you ask God to show you how He desires to use your painful circumstances as an opportunity to encourage others and strengthen your faith?
Further Reading Genesis 37-46; Romans 8:28