Saturday, August 26, 2017


Joseph’s story always feels a little rough to me.  This is part of why I have not had much to say, regarding the daily office, for several days.  There is so much abuse, persecution, and needless tragedy.  I struggle to wrap my mind around it, and as Joseph’s story begins to draw to a close, these words are haunting: 

Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (NIV).

Is it possible that this intense distress, over the course of a lifetime, was intentional?  Is it possible that God intended, all along, for Joseph, specifically, to be the ‘lucky one’ who must endure this narrative in order to bring redemption to the world, including Joseph’s very own abusers?  Often, when this passage is preached or taught, this is exactly what we say.  I’m not saying that, today.

Many versions of Scripture use the word “intended” in the translation, but the original Hebrew word here is actually חֲשָׁבָ֣הּ (chashavah), which means to think or to account… 

I love this, because it seems to get at the heart of what was going on.  Joseph’s brothers thought they could inflict this pain and suffering on Joseph and rid themselves of him, for their own sake.  But God looked at the situation and thought something good could still come of it.  God had an opinion, and then God worked with Joseph to account for the awful mess of his life.

Many things happened to Joseph, at the hands of others, over which he had no control.  But Joseph had a choice when it came to how he would respond to God’s nudge, and it appears that he responded in love, making the best choice possible in the given moment, far more often than not (maybe not always, but a lot).  God can use that!  And God did.

From Common Prayer, today, we have this quote:

“Help us, Lord, to see as you see : and to change what is into what ought to be.”

Let’s not turn a blind eye to the evil and suffering in the world.  It’s real.  But let’s also get out there and make every effort to do something about it.  Intentionality begins with a thought and an opinion about what is happening, but it ends with an account about what happens next!


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