April 2, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture—Genesis 50:19-21 (NRSV)
But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.
Leaders hear the sound of God wandering through the broken relationships in all of creation with resolve. We do not attempt to undo the shards of brokenness or plug up holes as though they are not there. We do not sweep trouble away or sweep away the troublesome people. Instead, we remember that inside those cracked events a good gospel implication can flow out.
In the 1930’s Noah McVicker was searching for a way to clean wallpaper. His family had a soap company, so he decided to mix some basic ingredients to create a kind of putty that he would use to wipe the walls down. At the time he believed it was just a good utility for cleaning wallpaper that only took some flour, water, salt and some other ingredients. It turned out to be so much more.
Christians are not meant to be people who look at bad situations and decide that nothing good can come from them. Ironically, though, we tend to draw that conclusion. We are a people who believe that from a cursed creation and broken people a woman was named the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20). We are a people who do not believe the world was almost flooded. Rather we believe that after it was flooded God made a covenant with all of creation (Genesis 9:11). We do not believe Jesus almost died but rather that he did die. And we worship the one who still has unfilled holes in his hands and feet (John 20:27). We have a faith that hopes for all things even after things go bad. It is why racism and prejudice and bias are relinquished as believers. We assume the best of people because the Gospel story endures in assuming the best of us.
We need not fear because we are learning that God is with us.
McVicker tossed some ingredients together to become a cleaning product for walls. And then some teachers got their hands on it and were using it the same way. But they noticed that it was bendable and moldable almost like clay. McVicker’s invention for one kind of good would instead be used to preserve the attention of many kids in class for years to come. His nephew suggested he call it Play-Doh.
Sometimes things are made for good and they morph into something even better. The scriptures do not have many Play-Doh type events, though; perhaps Elijah, but that is about it (1 Kings 17:10-12). We do not find bad events that almost happened in most cases but rather catastrophe. Somehow, though, the results turn out for the good.
Paul told the Philippians his imprisonment and possible death would actually turn out for good (Philippians 1:12). The early disciples were told to not fear when they were faced with tragedy and uncertainty regarding Jesus after watching him beaten until he was unrecognizable (John 20:15). Exiled Israelites were told to live life in the face of their eviction from a good land (Jeremiah 29:7). Every lesson of destruction and death and uncertainty and failure seen through a Gospel lens comes to the same conclusion Joseph did. There is no need to fear.
Leaders hear the sound of God wandering through the broken relationships in all of creation with resolve. We do not attempt to undo the shards of brokenness or plug up holes as though they are not there. We do not sweep trouble away or sweep away the troublesome people. Instead, we remember that inside those cracked events a good gospel implication can flow out (2 Corinthians 4:7-12). We recognize that God’s character is still working to preserve even after destruction.
When you see troublesome moments in your life how do you react?
When you see others going through troublesome moments how do you treat them?
What is God’s guarantee to you? Write down your own list of specific promises when trouble comes. What do the Scriptures tell you as a believer when specific troublesome circumstances happen?
Gracious God, thank you for Joseph’s example of bearing up under the pressure of the situations he experienced. He was certainly hurt but he was also certain of what you said. Make us people who are certain of what you tell us. And help us to constantly ponder what your presence means not only in our life but in others’ lives also. Thank you for your faithfulness and for making us into a people who after tough times can still come out good. Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Conclusions from Genesis 12-50
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DeLano J. Sheffield is the Business Resource Specialist for Goodwill of MoKan where he connects to people on the fringes, training them to reach their full potential through learning and the power of work; he also is on the frontlines of the advances of the fourth industrial revolution and coaches leaders on diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. He began his career as an architectural engineer then went on to attend seminary. In every part of his life he finds ways to infuse theology into vocation, and strengthen practical connections of faith and daily activity. DeLano lives in Kansas City, Missouri.