The Upper Room Devotion for Friday, May 12, 2023, was written by John D. Bown of Minnesota.
15 Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph's brothers said, "What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?" 16 So they approached Joseph, saying, "Your father gave this instruction before he died, 17 "Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.' Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father." Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, "We are here as your slaves." 19 But Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? 20 Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. 21 So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones." In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.
Genesis 50:15-21 NRSV
THE BIG PICTURE
My mother remarried when I was 14, and we moved to live near where my stepfather worked. It was only 50 miles away, but it felt like hundreds of miles because I was leaving friends I had known all my life. Then about a year and a half later, my stepfather was transferred to a town 200 miles away. I was angry that I had to leave my friends again. As a teenager, I couldn’t see anything good about these moves. But God works in mysterious ways. The moves forced me to be less introverted, and I became more comfortable meeting new people. I learned how to adapt to new environments and cope with changing circumstances.
Now I can see that possessing those skills has been a great benefit to me throughout my life. God has the full picture of our lives even if we may not understand in the moment. Joseph’s story from Genesis is a wonderful example of this. Even though his brothers meant to punish and harm Joseph, his experience in Egypt became a great blessing to many, including his own family. God sees the big picture; our role is to trust God.
It is not always easy to have faith, especially when we cannot see the answers to our prayers and problems on the horizons of our lives. Although we cannot always see how God is working on our behalf, we can trust that God is at work. While we might want God to give us a detailed progress report, God often only offers us small glimpses of what lay ahead. God knows how to navigate the pathways of our lives, our challenge is to allow God to lead the way.
Heavenly Father, you know the plans you have for us. Help us to trust in you even when we can’t see the big picture. Amen. - John D. Bown