I’ve always loved the story of Joseph. As long as I can remember, Genesis 37-50 has been my favorite biblical account. In a theatrical sense, it’s a really satisfying story. It has betrayal, mistaken identity, looming catastrophe, and sweet redemption. But the reason I’m drawn to it is actually deeper than that.
The fundamental idea presented in this chunk of scripture is that God uses our pain for good. Not only our individual good, but BIG good—the kind that affects nations. I won’t summarize the whole story here, but through the unthinkable betrayal of Joseph by his brothers, an entire empire (and beyond!) was saved from starvation.
Considering that God created the world to be free of pain and suffering in the first place, this idea of good coming out of pain is pretty radical. Goes to show that God is in control, even when we are not. (And if you look through the Bible, you are sure to find other places with this same theme.)
As a result of growing up with this story, I’ve always been of the opinion that God uses my own hurts for his glory. More recently, I’ve tasted and seen that this is true.
Over the course of 5 years, I was majorly wronged by someone very close to me. This is not the place to go into detail, but suffice it to say, it was something I never thought I would have to go through. It fundamentally altered how I see the world.
Now, it obviously had many negative effects on my life. It was emotionally torturous to go through. It cost me a lot of money. It wasted a huge amount of my time. And I now tend to be a bit more cynical of people because of it.
But I have seen good come of it too.
Because of what happened, I can help others who may be going through something similar. I’ve experienced personal growth that has furthered my walk with God, and surprisingly my career too.
On top of that there have been some really far reaching ways God has used this pain. Many I will never know the full extent of, but a surprising number I do.
This ordeal has affected my family. They will now make certain life decisions much more carefully. They have been able to give informed advice to a surprising number of friends going through similar situations. It has affected how my family members do ministry. It has affected how they serve their local church congregation and how they advise on school boards.
I was told recently that God used this unfortunate event in my life to impact the leadership culture of an entire college. This one was staggering to me!
But I really shouldn’t be surprised.
Just like so many other stories in the Old Testament, the story of Joseph points us to the larger narrative of the Bible. It points to Jesus. It points to the BIGGEST good, resulting from the DARKEST evil.
If God used the evil desires of men to help bring about salvation for all through Jesus’ death on the cross, it’s really no surprise that he can use my pain too.
If he’s big enough to do all that, I can be thankful for my trials.