Your Story Is Part of God’s Story
by Louie Giglio
Joseph understood that his life’s purpose was bigger than simply playing out his own dream, even a God-given dream. He knew he was on earth to be part of God’s story. This was a game changer for Joseph, and it can be a game changer for us too.
Maybe your dream is to go to school or get a degree or accomplish a certain task or find a spouse or start a business or move to a certain place or create a movement or carry the gospel to people who’ve never heard it before. Those may be great dreams, but there’s a bigger dream that overrides everything else: it’s that your life counts for the glory of God. That’s the overriding dream of God’s heart. If we don’t embrace that dream, then we are in trouble, because all our smaller dreams are subject to change. That overarching dream never needs to change, and Joseph understood that.
Look at Genesis 42-45, one of the most powerful stories in the Bible. Joseph wanted his brothers to bring the whole family to Egypt, where they’d be safe from the famine, so he played a trick on his brothers. They didn’t know what was going on, but he wanted to see if their hearts had changed. He wanted to see if they had learned to think about others instead of just themselves.
The brothers passed the test, and eventually Joseph revealed to them who he was. Finally he was reunited with his dad.
With all the family safely in Egypt and provided for, the brothers started thinking, As long as Dad’s alive, we’re good, because he’s our buffer. But Dad’s getting old, and when he’s gone, we’re in trouble. And when Jacob died, the brothers panicked (Genesis 50:15–18). They said to each other, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” Just to be on the safe side, they sent word to Joseph: “Your father gave this command before he died. ‘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” (Genesis 50:16–17).
Anybody in today’s world ever pull that on a brother or sister? Mom or dad passed away and you said, “By the way, the last thing Mom said was that I’m to get the house and you’re not.” Ugly stuff. These guys decided to pretend their dad had said this about forgiveness, and they hoped Joseph would go along.
“Joseph wept when they spoke to him” (verse 17). I don’t think he wept over their message; he wept because he loved his dad and for the ugliness of his brothers’ fear.
Then his brothers “came and fell down before him and said, ‘Behold, we are your servants’” (Genesis 50:18). Joseph could have let his thoughts stray an unhealthy way. He could have thought: How interesting. I seem to remember a dream where you all bowed down. What’s this? You’re actually bowing down. Well, hello. I was right after all.
But Joseph didn’t dwell on that; he focused on a higher story. When they said, “We are your servants,” Joseph didn’t answer back, “Yeah, you’re right; you are my slaves.” Instead, he said, “Do not fear” (verse 19).
That’s how confident Joseph was. He asked, “Am I in the place of God?” Then he asked if the brothers were seeing what he was seeing in the situation—that God was behind it. He told them they didn’t need to fear his position or power or comeback, because God had put him in this place. Joseph said to them, “‘You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them” (verses 20–21).
I don’t know if more powerful words were ever spoken by a human. We know that the God-man, Jesus, said amazing things. But Joseph was a human, like you and me, and yet he was so in touch with God’s sovereignty. How do you come to understand that what people intended for evil, God intended for good? Joseph was saying that the sovereign God was over all the affairs of the world. Brothers are not in charge. Circumstances are not in charge. God is in charge. Joseph never lost sight of God’s love and purpose, and he knew God was using him to bring glory to himself and salvation for many people.
This is a powerful, powerful way to live. Sure, this mind-set doesn’t preclude doing our best to right wrongs, seek justice, and find cures. But in the process of taking action, we must understand that God is in charge.
We need to fight a battle to see this truth. When bad things happen, the Enemy comes through the door and tells us that God doesn’t love us anymore and has no plan for us, and then we tend to bail out on God. But Joseph tells us, “Don’t abandon God, because even in the pit, God has a plan. Even when you feel abandoned, God is still on the scene. Even when you can’t see what God is doing, he’s always doing something.”
Through the lens of God’s grace, we can look back on the thirteen lost years of Joseph’s life and see that these were actually saving years, not only for Joseph, but for his entire family and many others. If we can grasp that one idea, it frees us from feeling we are in charge of any circumstances. We are released to trust our lives into the hands of a loving God.
Coming tomorrow in Day 4 of the Commit to Your Comeback Challenge devotions: When we have no comeback, the comeback is that Jesus is enough.