And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. Genesis 45:7-8
In the immediate disaster of my addiction, there was no proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. I felt hopeless and lost, knowing that I’d destroyed everything good in my life and that nothing would ever be the same. Despair defined my existence and hope was a stranger. It was only in that despair however, that I learned faith. When I had nothing left to rely upon, I relied only upon God, desperately seeking him and his will for me. Now, nearly ten years later, I can look back on that time with profound gratitude. God used the crucible of my addiction to unmake me, transforming me not into what I wanted, but into what he wanted. I’m still far from perfect, and I still have my struggles, but I can look at myself in the mirror now. I like my life. I can now look back at my addiction and actually be grateful for it. I’m not thankful for the pain I caused others, but I’m thankful for how God used my pain to shape me.
That perspective simply wasn’t possible while I was in the disaster, but rather took a lot of growth and transformation to get there. Joseph experienced something similar in today’s passage. In it, he finally revealed his identity to his brothers, who’d sold him into slavery years previously. They quaked in fear as they realized that the brother they’d once discarded now held their lives in his hands. Joseph could have had his revenge. He’d had his life stolen from him and he’d endured terrible trials – all at the hands of his brothers. But his perspective of that event had changed radically over time. As he grew into what God wanted him to be, Joseph came to see things from God’s perspective. He no longer despised his brothers for the wrong they’d done to him. He only saw God’s plan for his life.
I’m not trying to put a silver lining on your life tragedy or tell you that God did it to you for a reason for which you’ll be grateful someday. I am saying that in our trials, if we hope for a better future, we must seek God’s will. When we have nothing upon which to rely, we must learn to rely upon God. Whether we can see it now or not, he loves us and he wants that which is ultimately best for us. To get there though, we must grow and be transformed in his will.