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“But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life” (Genesis 45:5).
Several years back, the theme for our annual Calvary Chapel Pastors’ Wives Conference in Murrieta, California was “All Things.” Just that: “All Things.” One of the gifts they gave all 900 of us was the tiniest gold frame I’ve ever seen, in which those two words were written in blue flourish. “All Things.”
At each session, the speakers took a different “all thing” from the Bible and expounded on it. A few of the speakers described several of those “all things.” And God was in each one.
I brought my gold frame home and set it on the windowsill above my kitchen sink, because I wanted to remember how profound those two small words were once God’s Spirit opened my eyes to them. God is in All Things, and has the power to make All Things work out for my good.
I wonder exactly when Joseph reached this same conclusion. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t while lying in the hole his brothers had dug for him, or when he was loaded up on the caravan and carried away from the only home he’d known. Nor do I think it was while he was running from Potiphar’s wife, or during the two years he spent in prison, hoping someone would remember him.
My guess is that the “All Things” of God came alive to Joseph the moment he laid eyes on his brothers, and he realized then exactly what God had done by bringing him to Egypt and putting him in the position he was in.
He doesn’t minimize the actions of his brothers, or try to sweep it all under the rug in the name of reconciliation, as we are so prone to do. He states it outright: “Don’t grieve or be angry with yourselves because you sold me here.” Joseph is very matter-of-fact about the crime they committed against him. But in the same sentence, he lets them off the hook. They did evil against him, but God used it all for His own purposes.
The fact that Joseph was able to embrace his brothers tells me something powerful: accepting that God is Lord over “All Things” gives us the strength — or maybe the necessary perspective — to turn around and forgive those who have hurt us.
Oh, God. Make those two words burn in my heart.