In reverse

Here's this week's Bible reflection:

Joseph forgave his brothers. He invited the brothers who conspired to kill him, but instead sold him as a slave, to come and live with him. He told them to bring their father that they all would be able to thrive during the time of famine in Egypt. Joseph told them that all of their actions were part of God’s plan to save them.

Last week I wrote about Reuben – the brother who convinced the others not to sell Joseph, but rather to throw him in a pit. As I lifted up Reuben for his actions, I wrote this:

His cool head stopped his brothers from making a mistake that would cost them dearly. 
And by that, I meant to introduce the idea that by selling Joseph as a slave, the brothers saved themselves and their families from dying of starvation years later. And it seems that’s what Joseph said, too.

It’s easy to look in reverse and see how one path led to another and then to another and how everything worked together to bring a person, a family, or an organization to the place they are now.

But who’s to say that it had to happen that way?

Did Joseph need to be sold as a slave for the brothers to be saved years later? What if the brothers had never conspired? What if they all got along and Joseph still dreamed about a famine? What if Jacob had never given Joseph the long robe with sleeves and made the other brothers exceedingly jealous?  What if any of the parts of the story of the life of Joseph had been different? Would the brothers have survived?

I don’t know. No one knows.  As much as I love to see stories of God’s path in folks lives and love to look back and see how God’s path has led me to wherever I am on life’s journey, I have no idea how different or the same things may have turned out if parts of the story had been changed.

It is wise to study history. It is wise to learn from the mistakes made throughout history so that we don’t repeat them. 

But I’m not one to look at history and say, ‘It had to happen this way, otherwise it . . . couldn’t have happened” or something like that. 

I am one to say that whether you’re moving forward, in reverse, or standing still, God is with you on the journey. Embrace it.

And be nice.

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