...by Chris Tiegreen...
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
Joseph's brothers had sold him into slavery. It was an unexpected turn, especially in light of the dreams he had recently had. Those dreams foretold his family bowing down to him. Becoming the property of wandering traders didn't seem fit in the plan. Neither did his years in an Egyptian prison. Had God abandoned him? Were his dreams really just the product of a self-righteous imagination? How could he be so far off track? [--> The Story of Joseph]
Joseph wasn't off track. The plans of his brothers for harm fit with the plan of God for good. Though everyone involved was quite unaware of God's hand, their steps were ordained by Him. He had seen the whole tragedy ahead of time and had woven His plan into it. Or He had seen the plan and woven the tragedy into it. We're not sure exactly how His sovereignty operates in the self-will of humanity, but we know that it does. Even when life throws the unexpected at us, it is never unexpected for God. He always has a plan.
That's hard for us to grasp. Sometimes life seems far off course. We think we're too far astray, or that circumstances are reeling out of control. But we forget: We are children of the God who sees ahead and who has already interwoven His good, sovereign plan with the strange, presumptuous will of human beings. We are not as off tract as we think.
If God's sovereignty applies to the actions of Joseph's jealous brothers, it certainly applies to our decision-making processes. We stress and strain over finding God's will, and it's important to seek His direction in all things. But if we've made that honest attempt and go forward in faith, there is no sense in turning back and wondering if somehow we missed His perfect plan. He has ordered out steps, even when we weren't sure of them. Long ago, He took our will even when we were willful and used it for His purposes. How much more will He keep us near His plan when we aim at faithfulness? Seek God's will and determine to pursue it, but don't stress about your steps. He always puts them in order.
Thy ways are past understanding, but Thou knowest the way for me.
~ Dietriech Bonhoeffer ~