“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…”
Genesis 50:20 (NIV)
The story is told that when Robert Burns the great Scottish poet was ploughing a field in November 1785, he accidentally turned over the soil and exposed the nest of a field mouse. To a Mouse was his poem written after this incident. It is about a one sided conversation he has with the mouse he disturbed.
In it he expresses sorrow and frustration at the way life seems to happen. A discouraged tone is seen throughout the poem as he reflects on the fact the mouse had worked hard to have a safe place in preparation for the coming winter’s cold winds.
Now all is lost for the mouse. The best laid plans of the mouse are ruined by a cut of his plough shear. But worse than that, Burns looks back on his own past and forward to an uncertain future, and thinks it all is in vain.
We may have the gloomy outlook of Burns as he talks to the mouse because of trials in life. Reflecting on our past we are full of questions about why these things had to happen to us. We look to the future as Burns did and all we can see is darkness and more of the same things that caused our pain in the first place.
We do not understand why our marriage failed, our health gave out, our loved one died and so on. It is such a difficult thing just to get up in the morning and face another uncertain day. We trudge on without hope.
The man who spoke the words in our Bible verse for today had much the same outlook at one time in his life. His older brothers had sold him into slavery because of jealousy for the love of their father. Joseph was the spoiled child in their eyes so they got rid of him instead of simply murdering him.
Joseph’s master in Egypt put him in charge of his house because Joseph was so good at his work. Then the man’s wife tried to seduce Joseph and when he refused her advances she lied about him and he was promptly thrown in jail. For years, it seems, he wasted away in prison with no hope of release. Then when he helped a fellow prisoner the man forgot Joseph when he was released.
Life for Joseph was as bleak as that described in Burn’s poem. He did not have the slightest idea of why God allowed this to happen and he saw no reason for God to come to his aid. His situation was senseless as far as Joseph was concerned. He suffered for no fault of his own.
Then he miraculously gained his release and interpreted a dream for Pharaoh. The wisdom and grace of Joseph won the admiration of Pharaoh and Joseph soon became the administrator of all Egypt. Only then did Joseph have any idea why God allowed his suffering. Only then could he say what he did in our verse for today. You may be in the same position of Joseph, your issues have you in a prison of despair.
If you trust God when you do not understand Him you will be able to say what Joseph did years later when God sorts your life out. God can take the evil of others and make it into a stepping stone to better things if you put your trust in Him. Come back to the God Who made you and give yourself and your issues to Him. Come and come today.