Today’s Old Testament lesson (Genesis 50:15-26) brings us to the end of Joseph’s story; and thankfully, it’s a good ending. Joseph has been reconciled to his brothers and has lived a long life. He has lived to see his grandchildren, and great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren. And he has foreseen the day when his people will return to the land that the Lord God promised them.
But it’s important to remember that this “happy ending” came at a great cost. Joseph was cut off from his father. He was accused of crimes that he didn’t commit. He endured painful years of isolation and deprivation in prison before he rose to a position of prominence. No wonder his brothers feared that he might seek revenge for their original act of betrayal, which had set into motion the whole miserable journey (see Gen. 37:12ff. and 50:15).
But if we’ve been following Joseph’s story closely, we’ve heard this repeated refrain: “The LORD was with Joseph” (Gen. 39:2, et. al.). And so — in words that have become deeply meaningful to me personally — Joseph is able to respond in the end: “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:19-20). Joseph affirms that God can use even painful experiences and undeserved suffering to bring about blessing, both for himself and for others.
Let’s face it. All of us will be wounded at one point or another. Some of those wounds will come from the misfortunes that befall every life: illnesses, accidents and so on. But some will come at the hands of people we trust: neighbors, coworkers, friends, and even family members who hurt us in ways that we don’t deserve. But God is able to use even these wounds to produce blessing. As the New Testament later affirms, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
Naturally, I pray that any wounds you suffer today will be few and not too deep. But even in our suffering, may we become “wounded healers” (to borrow Henri Nouwen’s terminology), whose trust in God’s faithfulness allows us to face even the darkness with confidence that “the Light shines in the the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).