The old familiar story, first heard in Sunday School, or perhaps read to me by my 1st Grade teacher rang true once more. We were sitting in a large circle, doing devotions before the start of our last day of leadership training in Orillia. We were looking again at the life of Joseph, attempting to glean from his experience and example, some lessons in godly leadership.
The message that came through to me was simple. No matter what the circumstances, no matter how dire or hopelss or unjust the situation, God would eventually use it to bless Joseph and to position him to effectively channel God's blessing to others - sometimes those who had most despitefully used him. And depending on the attitude I choose (sometime even in spite of it!) God will do, and has done, and continues to do, the same for me - as he will for anyone else, too.
Tonight, I knelt beside the bed of a little blonde curly-haired boy with blue eyes and skin like porcelain, my grandson, Mikey. I held his hand as, eyes filled with tears and brimming over, he poured his heart out to me, my own heart breaking with his. There is already so much injustice in his little life! And he feels the hurt keenly and deeply. Just like we all do.
I listened and when he came to the end of the sad series of stories about his day, I asked him if he wanted to hear mine. He didn't even nod, but his blue eyes met mine and I took that as an invitation.
I told him the story of Joseph in as much detail as I could remember and how badly he had been treated by people that should have loved him (his brothers, in this case). I talked about how he must have felt at the bottom of that pit, or locked away in jail, being punished for something he didn't even do! But he didn't blame God and he didn't have a pity party about it. He just kept walking. Just kept living his life with integrity, and trusting God, walking through the problems, not around them or away from them. He didn't seem to indulge in despair or bitterness, though he certainly had every reason to feel that way. What he would have missed had he given in to those feelings!
I promised Mikey, not just because of the story of Joseph, but from lessons learned in my own life story, that God was going to use all of this to give him the skills and put him where God needs him to be so that he can fulfil the purpose in life that he was created for.
"It's hard to believe, but someday," I told him, "you're going to look back on all of this stuff and thank God for it. Because God's going to use it all to make you into someone that He can channel his blessing through to others. And when that happens, you'll feel so awed by the goodness and greatness of God who loves you, that you will actually be glad all this stuff has happened."
I'm not sure he got it all, but he listened raptly to the story and all the lessons I drew out of it, too. Soon after I finished, his little eyes closed and he was fast asleep.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 NIV