Providence and the story of Joseph

As you think about the coming year, do you feel optimistic or rather gloomy? Like most people, I feel more settled when I know what’s coming. But the difficulty is that 2022 looks so unknown. COVID makes having certainty difficult. We can be certain that this year will be uncertain. This is where the wonderful doctrine of Providence can be a great comfort.

Providence is God’s sovereignty to continually uphold, guide, and care for his creation. Providence happens in ways that we can see, but also in ways which we don’t see. Providence reminds us that God is always in control. Nothing in his world happens by accident.

We’re going to be reminded of God’s providence in our new sermon series on Joseph (not Mary’s husband, but the other guy). The story of Joseph is about more than an “amazing technicolour dreamcoat”. It tells the story of a man’s journey from prisoner to prince; it’s the story God’s unfolding plan to guide his wayward people; it’s about God’s ordering of circumstances for good, even when the good can’t be immediately seen.

All the trials we’ll go through this year (and beyond) will be a whole lot easier to endure if we had more trust in God’s providence. If we can remember that God is in control of everything that happens to us – both “good” and “bad” – we will be far less frustrated. We’ll be far more confident that he’s in charge, working all things (including the “bad” and merely inconvenient things) together for ultimate good.

Providence is God’s sovereignty to continually uphold, guide, and care for his creation.

In God’s sovereignty, the story of Joseph gives a small preview of Jesus. Joseph was the object of his father’s special love. He was sold for pieces of silver. He was stripped of his robe. He was falsely accused. He was faithful amid temptation. He was thrown into prison. He saved his rebellious brothers from death when they realized who he is. He is exalted after and through humiliation. He gives hungry people bread. People must bow before him.

At the end of Genesis, Joseph was able to see God’s providence, saying to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:20). We cannot always see everything that God does in our lives, but the Bible gives us ample evidence to believe God is always at work. The gospel reminds us that through Jesus, God is always working for our good.