Certain stories and movies begin with the end – and then go back to tell the story of how it all unfolded. I’m thinking of movies like Saving Private Ryan, or Forest Gump that are set up like that. It’s a weird feeling to see the end first, but I find it very helpful and interesting to see how it all gets to the conclusion -and I’m actually excited to see how it falls into place, when it doesn’t seem like it will be able to get there.
Life is like that. Understanding life is like that. The story of Joseph is precisely like that.
What if you could conclude your life by what I call the 50/20 principle? This principle is named after the verse where it’s found, Genesis 50:20. Here it is – this is what Joseph said to his brothers at the end of his life, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”
What if I told you that this will be your reality? What if I said, “Whatever else you’ll experience in your life, at the end of it, you’ll be able to say, ‘God meant it for good!’” Would that help you while you walk through and wait through the story? Would that enable you to trust God with your life in a deeper way? It has helped me!
The story of Joseph is, to me, the most encouraging story in the Bible. If you’ve read the 14 chapters of Genesis 37-50, you know what I mean. It only takes a few minutes to read these chapters, but as you do, you are able to see the incredibly complex journey of his life from beginning to end.
The things he experienced make the story relatable to just about every person I know.
He was rejected by the very people who should have loved him the most.
He was hated and abandoned by his brothers – who really wanted to kill him.
He was enslaved and removed from everything that was familiar or dear to him.
He was slandered and falsely accused when he did everything right!
He was isolated and forgotten and left to rot in prison.
But God wasn’t done with Joseph!
Those low points of his life followed great times of promise – when good things were happening to Joseph. This means that his life was like a roller-coaster. His very high moments are nearly always followed by deep and dark valleys.
One of the wild things about this story (and about our lives sometimes) is that Joseph didn’t do anything to deserve the poor treatment. He was victimized in so many ways, but never allowed himself to simply BE a victim. He was treated with so much injustice, and never deserved what he experienced – but again – rose above all that with the help of God. How does that work?
Here’s how it works. Through every experience, Joseph was assured that God was WITH him, and he learned that God could use all of those painful things in his life. In fact, it’s the very awareness that God was with him that helped him get through the tough times. We see that truth several times, especially in the “prison chapter.”
It says, “But the Lord was with Joseph…” Genesis 39:21
I think this is the primary application of these 14 chapters of the life of Joseph.
If I can believe by faith that God will take every situation – and cause it work for good…
If I can believe He is WITH me, even when I can’t see or hear him…
If I can see how He has consistently been faithful in the lives of others.
THEN I can wait through to the end, fully trusting that God will do the same in my life.
I’d remind you, if you’re a follower of Christ – He is with you, JUST as He was with Joseph. In fact, I’d go much further than that. God is MORE with you than He was with Joseph. He is IN you fulfilling the promise of Jesus to give you the Holy Spirit. He will never leave you or abandon you. Believe that.
Knowing God’s WITH you, helps you know God’s not DONE with you.
Even in those dark times when you can’t feel him or see him or hear Him. He’s there. He knows where you are, and He is weaving your story to have the same testimony as Joseph’s. He wants you to trust that He will get you there – and allow Him to shape you on your journey.
You can say with Joseph, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”
Unless you’re at the very end of your life – unless you’re taking your very last breath as you hear these words, I believe this with all my heart, God’s Not Done With You.
Thoughts from John Meador and insights from God's Word.