Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? 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 50:19-20)
In saying, “Am I in the place of God” Joseph conveyed to his brothers that neither he or they could have prevented the outcome –- it had to happen. It had been determined by the Almighty that Joseph was to go into Egypt. Their evil thoughts and intentions toward their brother were used by God to bring about life-saving purposes. Thus, it says, “he comforted them and spoke kindly to them — literally, to their heart” (Genesis 50:21).
Many years later, Messiah would also have to suffer at the hands of evil men in accordance with the Father’s Will. As Isaiah prophesied of the coming Messiah:
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opens not his mouth.…Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief.” (Isaiah 53:6-7, 10)
Admittedly, this concept is hard for us to swallow sometimes. Having finite minds, it is difficult to understand why, at times, it pleases God that someone should have to suffer at the hands of the wicked. Yet, if we look at it from a more heavenly perspective, we can see that if the righteous had not suffered in these particular cases, many would have perished. If Joseph had not been in Egypt and tossed into prison, he could have never been summoned before Egypt’s king and, consequently, the rest of Israel would have potentially perished. Where Messiah is concerned, Paul said that if He had not been crucified and then resurrected, “Your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Corinthians 15:17).
The point is, if others have suffered that many more might live, is it not reasonable to consider that we, too, might be called upon to suffer for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven? We know that this is so and, still, we still struggle with the idea that “I” might have to suffer. No one likes pain and loss and, yet, it is a prerequisite if we are to follow Him. Don’t lose heart though; and don’t be intimidated or immobilized by the prospect of suffering for Paul said the glory that we will enter into cannot be compared to the little suffering we may have to endure in this world (Romans 8:18).
Blessings and Shalom,