We see God’s sovereign rule over man illustrated in the story of Joseph, Jacob’s son. Joseph’s older brothers hated him and wanted him dead. One day when Joseph came looking for them far from home the wrathful brothers decided to take the opportunity to finally rid themselves of their father’s favorite son. At first they were going to kill him. However, God overruled their murderous plans and allowed them to sell him as a slave to a passing caravan. Joseph was taken to Egypt and sold to a good master, Potiphar: “Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there” (Gen. 39:1).
God blessed Joseph as he carried out his stewardship responsibilities. Joseph didn’t know it, but he was in training for a future time when he would be steward over much more in the nation of Egypt. God is always working in this manner in our lives. He allows experiences to come to us that prepare us to serve Him even more effectively in the future. Many times these events would not be of our choosing. However, our sovereign God knows what is best for our spiritual development and what experiences we need in order to be a greater blessing to others and bring even greater glory to Him. Knowing this enables us to prayerfully wait in peaceful, trusting faith for God to lead us through these difficult times.
Next, God allowed Potiphar’s wife to try to seduce Joseph. Fortunately, Joseph chose to be faithful to God and not dishonor his master. So he rejected her advances and told her, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9). Frustrated and enraged by Joseph’s refusal, she accused him of trying to force himself on her. As a result, Joseph was put in prison. Once again, Joseph found himself in a very difficult situation for which he had done nothing to deserve. But again, he chose to be faithful to his God even though it would appear that God had been unfaithful to him by allowing this to happen.
Events will also happen in our life that from outward appearances seem to indicate that God has not been faithful in His promise to us. Many things will happen that we simply don’t understand—usually God doesn’t reveal the reason until later, or we may never know in this life why He allowed such a thing to happen. Here again we see the necessity of understanding God’s sovereignty in order to wait patiently on Him during such times.
Now, fast–forward to the end of Joseph’s story when he is exalted right next to Pharaoh in power and authority. Seven years of plenty had come followed by seven years of famine just as God had revealed to Joseph. When the famine came, it affected the area where Joseph’s father and brothers were living. They heard there was grain in Egypt. So they went there to buy some to bring back to their families. Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize their brother, who was now this great man of authority in Egypt. After testing them to see if they had changed, Joseph finally revealed himself to them. He reassured them with love and forgiveness in his voice:
But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. . . . And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt” (Gen. 45:5-8).
Joseph had gained a marvelous insight into God’s sovereignty. He understood that it was God who allowed Joseph’s brothers to carry out their hateful plan. It was God who had allowed all the events of the previous years—events both good and bad from man’s perspective. Many things happened to Joseph that certainly went against God’s revealed will. It was not God’s revealed will for Joseph’s brothers to treat him in this manner. It was not God’s revealed will for Potiphar’s wife to try to seduce Joseph and then lie about what had happened. No, but God’s secret will was to allow these things to happen and use them to carry out His plans in Joseph’s life.
God works in the same manner in the Christian’s life today. He doesn’t keep bad things from happening. Instead, He uses them for our good, and anything He knows will not work to be a blessing for us He will keep from happening to us. “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain” (Ps. 76:10).
Personal reflection and discussion
1. Does God allow only good things to happen to Christians?
2. What happened to Joseph that could have caused him to doubt God’s love and guidance in his life?
3. How does knowing God’s sovereignty help Christians remain faithful to God when bad things happen to them?
4. What insight about God did Joseph reveal when he spoke to his brothers when they came before him seeking grain during the famine?
• Call your prayer partner and discuss this devotional with him/her.
• Pray with your prayer partner:
1. Pray for God to baptize you with His Holy Spirit.
2. Pray for God to revive you and His church.”
3. Pray for God to forgive you when you doubt His love and care for you when something bad happens.
4. Pray for God to help you embrace the promise that all things work together for your good.
5. Pray for the individuals on your prayer list.
Excerpt From: Dennis Smith. “40 Days.”