Reading: Psalm 105
He called down famine on the land
and destroyed all their supplies of food;
and he sent a man before them—
Joseph, sold as a slave.
They bruised his feet with shackles,
his neck was put in irons,
till what he foretold came to pass,
till the word of the LORD proved him true.
The king sent and released him,
the ruler of peoples set him free.
He made him master of his household,
ruler over all he possessed,
to instruct his princes as he pleased
and teach his elders wisdom (NIV).
Here is a question for you. Is bad news always bad news, or is it good news in disguise?
Old Orchard Beach, ME — photo by David Kitz
Sometimes what initially appears to be a very bad change of circumstances can over time turn out for the better. The story of the patriarch, Joseph, illustrates this truth perfectly. No one would be foolish enough to call Joseph’s betrayal by his brothers a good news event. Being sold as a foreign slave in Egypt was in many respects a death sentence. How could something good or meaningful come from the life of an obscure young slave?
But that obscure young slave rose above his circumstances and changed the course of nations. His faith and actions more than three millennia ago still have ramifications for us today. How would Egypt have survived seven years of famine without the foresight and wisdom of Joseph? Would there be a Jewish nation today without the guiding hand of Joseph, who was strategically positioned at such a critical time in history?
What began as a bad news story, turned into the salvation of a nation. Joseph told his brothers, “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).
Sometimes I wonder what thoughts, hopes and dreams sustained Joseph during his darkest hours. God most certainly was with him. He did not go down to Egypt alone. When we receive bad news, is it always genuinely bad? If God is with us in the hard times, great good may yet come from our most negative experiences. He is a redemptive God who turns darkness to light, mourning to gladness, and curses into blessings. Surely, this is why St. Paul admonishes us with these words: give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Response: Father God, when bad news comes give me a thankful heart and a right perspective. Your ways are higher than mine. You know the end before the beginning starts. I choose to trust you. Amen.
Your Turn: Over time has the Lord turned bad news into good news for you?