- Joe Steenholdt
Genesis 45 & 50 - Providence Promotes Patience
When things don’t go our way, it’s good to know God is still at work
Read / Listen
Read Gen. 45:4-8 & 50:19-20
4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 28
Q. How does the knowledge
of God’s creation and
providence help us?
A. We can be patient when things go against us,
thankful when things go well,
and for the future we can have
good confidence in our faithful God and Father
that nothing will separate us from his love.
All creatures are so completely in his hand
that without his will they can neither move nor be moved.
The Scriptures as a whole show how God worked through the history of Israel to bring about a Savior for His people at just the right time (cf. Rom. 5:6). The Bible is also filled with stories of God working through individuals and their particular circumstances for the ultimate good—that is of salvation. Joseph’s life in the book of Genesis is one of the more striking testimonies of God’s providence through adversity.
Joseph’s life starts well with special blessings from his father, Jacob, and he dreams grand dreams that include images of his brothers bowing down to him. Except all of this makes his brothers livid with him, and they conspire to get rid of him by selling him to Midianites traveling through the region.
Joseph ends up in Egypt, which starts well enough until he has to spend time in prison for a false accusation. Over and over, Joseph is knocked down and faces many situations that are the pits.
One would think this would make Joseph a bitter and angry individual who would be planning out his revenge against his hateful brothers. Near the end of the book of Genesis, we read of his reunion with his brothers in Egypt, and he has his opportunity and the authority to really hand it to them. Yet he shows them kindness and grace, which leads to his brothers’ acknowledging their guilt, and there is reconciliation.
Joseph did not release his brothers from their responsibility for their sinful actions, but through his adversity, God refined him and reminded him who truly was in charge of everything. Joseph had seen that despite his brothers’ wicked intentions, God had a more excellent plan and would use Joseph’s time in Egypt to rescue his family from the effects of the famine in the land. And this didn't all happen instantly, but took much of his life. He spent many years in prison and overcoming other hardships.
One of the beauties of the Heidelberg Catechism is how it doesn't just state teachings from Scripture, but often follows up with a sort of ‘so what?’ question. Q&A 28 is one of these instances. In other words: we believe in a God who creates, sustains, and rules over all creation and all His creatures—how does knowing this help us? And the first part of the answer deals with the reality of difficulties in life, “We can be patient when things go against us.”
God’s ways are usually beyond our limited view, and knowing his providence helps us trust His goodness. You may have to face a co-worker who seems to be out to get you, have a severe illness that is sapping your strength, or recently lost a loved one. May God grant you patience in anything that is going against you and give you His peace that He is just and will make all things right.
Remember that even in these burdens, “God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: A Heavenly Father who is good and just;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray for perseverance to trust in God’s plans beyond your present circumstances.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Hebrews 4