Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Lessons from Lockdown?

All photos courtesy of Unsplash
What Was Meant for Evil, God Uses for Good’
The story of Joseph is an amazing take on tragedy and triumph? This young Hebrew man flourished in the midst of tragedy? Twenty years after his brothers sold him into slavery the roles were reversed. Joseph had become Vice Regent of Egypt and his brothers are pleading with him for food and ultimately for their lives. Once they realised that he recognised them they approached them with dread. They were terrified that he would settle old scores and throw them into a pit of their own making. But Joseph didn’t. In his explanation, we find insight into understanding the way that God operates.

I have quoted below three translations of Genesis chapter 50 verse 20. It’s clear that these verses articulate the life lesson that Joseph had learned through the frustrating and tough years of his lockdown in Egypt. 

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. — Genesis 50:20 NASB

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

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. — Genesis 50:20 NKJV

We learn in these verses that Joseph discovered what was intended for evil God turns to good.

Maybe this is a lesson we can learn through our period of lockdown. Joseph was forced to live away from his father and home. He was 17 when this happened and he is 39 when he is reconciled with his family. That’s a long lockdown - 22 years. Our lockdown, despite all the frustrations and difficulties, is nothing compared to Joseph’s. Having said that, it has been tough for many people. 

So, my point? What am I learning from lockdown? I’m quite a slow learner. I’ve been thinking this week about lessons I need to learn. Some of them are quite major and others are about things I’m taking years to get to grips with. What about you? It would be wise to sit down and consider what you could learn from these times. 

As you do this remember - what is happening has a purpose. Maybe God is trying to get your attention - will you listen? Perhaps, there are things you need the space to think about and to put right. Possibly, you, like me, have been going too fast and this is the time to slow down and take stock. 

But back to Joseph. Joseph claimed the principle of Genesis 50:20 and never let it go. But in doing this he doesn't ignore the fact of evil. Quite the contrary. He still confronts the injustice, evil and heartlessness of his brother's actions. Joseph was deeply hurt by their disloyalty and also the miscarriage of justice that he faced in Potiphar's house. We would not know this unless we had the insight to his feelings that is recorded in Psalm 105 verse 18. What Joseph was experiencing is just the same as we do at times. Thankfully for us, often, the lessons are not learned in such severe circumstances. The same Psalm, verse 19, reminds us that 'the word of God proved him true,' NIV. Are there lessons I should be learning from lockdown, is God testing me and proving me to be a true and genuine disciple.

Time and time again God reversed Joseph's circumstances as he exited each painful scenario. The ripped robe became a royal one. The painful pit became a palatial palace. The broken family became a brotherhood. The very acts that were intended to destroy Joseph turned out to strengthen him.

Max Lucado in one of his blogs points out that the word 'meant' in the phrase '
You meant evil against me,' uses a Hebrew verb that traces its meaning to 'weave' or 'plait.' 'You wove evil,' he was saying, 'but God rewoveit together for good.' God, the Master Weaver. He stretches the yarn and intertwines the colours, the ragged twine with the velvet strings, the pains with the pleasures. Nothing escapes His reach. Every king, despot, weather pattern, and molecule are at His command. He passes the shuttle back and forth across the generations, and as He does, a design emerges. Satan weaves; God reweaves." 

May the Lord help us to learn the lessons of lockdown so that we discover what we thought was for evil was actually for our good. 


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