“But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, 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.” (Genesis 50:19-21)

Joseph the son of the patriarch Jacob was the chief administrative officer in the land of Egypt. Years before, his brothers, filled with spite and jealousy because of his position as his father’s favorite, had sold him into slavery. Years later, after they had been reunited and reconciled, when Jacob died, the brothers feared that Joseph would exact his revenge. They had seriously misjudged him. Joseph comforted his brothers by reminding them that he had forgiven them long ago.

Joseph was a godly man who had grown in wisdom through the trials and joys of his life. He had experienced the grace of God and had not only been blessed but had been a blessing to others. He saw the big picture, that the sovereignty of God had worked all things out for His own glory as well as the salvation of His people. Because of this he was willing and able to forgive those who had hurt him.

God enables us to forgive, but it helps if we see the world as He does. God is sovereign over everything that happens in the world including natural disasters, pandemics, illness, and even the sinful acts of mankind. Nothing ever takes Him by surprise, certainly not the things that trouble us these days: COVID, war, violence, social decay, and political unrest. Nothing that happens has consequences that mushroom out of His control. Everything that happens He works in accordance with His providential plan, even evil and sin. Sometimes He works through such things to punish injustice and iniquity,  it more often, Laws by which He governs the universe come with their own inevitable consequences or blessings

It is within the Lord’s plan to discipline believers which means we may have to endure painful and difficult circumstances in life often as the consequences of our sin or someone else’s (as with Joseph). In all these, the Lord is working out His sovereign plan. He uses these circumstances to enable us to grow in faith. Though we may have to endure with difficulty and pain, ultimately, we who believe endure with hope and patience. And as we endure we can reach out to others and comfort them with the same comfort we have received. We can then forgive others as we are forgiven by God.