Monday, Jan 21, 2019. Do you have enemies? Do we all have enemies? Who is your enemy? It is quite some important question. In the past, the French and the British were enemies. Or the French and the Germans. Or the Germans and the British. Then, they became friends, after the desaster of the Second World War. A new chapter was opened. But before that, clearly there were people fighting each other, to death!
It is good to know who is working against you, who is your enemy, who is not honest towards you. I must say that I had to learn that deliberate lies against other people are something people really use and practice, even in the middle of a civilized environment. We call it evil if people behave like that - and this kind of evil might happen in the middle of the best families …
The story of Joseph …
If you look into the story of Joseph, you find this kind of evil in the middle of a fantastic family. Here, you have 12 sons, which are to become the foundation of an unbelievable nation and unbelievable story. It is the story of God's salvation for the world. But in the middle of it we find a lot of anger, a lot of greed, a lot of envy. Joseph's deams make his brothers very angry - they even give him into death. But after years, when Joseph has become the most influential person in Egypt, and after his father Jacob has died, we read:
15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: 17 ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people2 should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50, 15-21)
The reaction of Joseph is quite remarkable. He is not playing the game of action and reaction. He is playing a different game, the game of reconciliation. He has faith in God, he seems to know the living God. And indeed, in this personal history, he has experienced the power of God. He has been in prison. He got out of it. He experienced quite some success. Then he was thrown into prison again. His life was far from being easy. And all this shaped his character in a particular way. But we do not read of any bitterness in him.
If God means it for Good …
We hear that whatever humans think, if God means it for good with someone, he will make it good. It does not necessarily mean that life is easy. But it means that the blessing of God will succeed in various ways.
Studying the life story of Isaac and Jacob, of Joseph and his brothers, is highly exciting. There are various strange stories and events. But there is also the power of God and his balancing mercy in the life of all these people, good or bad. We read of many very human features of their characters, of struggle and envy. But God is going with them, helping them and rebuking them, giving them blessings and challenges.
There is a deep mercy of the eternal lord. He is searching purity and truth in every single human. He wants us to be his image, to live in his image. We were created to be like him in spirit. It is very exciting to explore what that really means. We are invited to search and to find, to live what we found, and to search and find more, deeper love, forgiveness which transforms our life deep inside. If God means it for good, … he will do it well. And he means it for good … let us go to him! (Roland Potthast) ... further texts