“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.” – Joseph to his brothers, Genesis 50:20
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
If you’re a believer in God, then you have some amount of faith that God can take crap and turn it into diamonds.
He can take bad circumstances, mix in his special formula of grace, mercy, and hope, and turn them into something good.
Take Joseph, for example. He was thrown into a hole and sold into slavery by his bros.
If anybody had reason to be bitter and angry, it’s Joseph. Yet, at every turn, he chose to figure out a way to honor God. When he was falsely accused of attempted rape. When he was forgotten in jail by people who said they’d remember him. And on and on.
He chose to stay faithful and take opportunities to serve, and God honored each bad situation and turned them into a strength of character and a depth of wisdom that would eventually make Joseph the second most powerful person in Egypt.
And what do you know? Joseph used that power to keep the people of Egypt and surrounding areas alive. His statement to his brothers when they came to him for food during the famine proved that Joseph had a deep gratitude for every bad turn that led him to where he was.
God can take bad and make good.
Gratitude: Making use of the past for future good.
Those things that you regret. Those things that you feel shame about. Those things in your life that you feel others are to blame for (and they very well might be at fault). All those things can be leveraged for good through an understanding and surgical use of gratitude.
First of all, I think it’s silly and dangerous for me to tell you that you should be thankful for this or that event in your past – especially a painful event. I would never. It’s not my place.
We need to understand that we don’t have to be grateful for a particular occurrence in and of itself in order to leverage those events for good. And you should tread lightly when you’re tempted to tell someone to be thankful for painful past events.
Hey Joseph, “Aren’t you so thankful that your brothers threw you in a pit and sold you into slavery? Wasn’t that awesome?”
Nope… that’s for Joseph to think and say, not for you to suggest.
BUT…. if you learn to surgically apply gratitude to the possibilities that any event in your past might open up, then now we’re on to something.
Are you going to be thankful for cancer? Probably not.
Is it possible to have gratitude for the ability now to speak into another cancer patient’s life and walk through his process with him with a depth of empathy? Most definitely.
I know multiple individuals who got pregnant before they had planned. Would they choose to do it that way again if they had their 16th year to do over? Probably not.
Have they been intensely grateful for the daughter or son that resulted? Most definitely.
Whether it’s a decision you made that caused you and others pain – a decision that you have learned from and grew out of or whether there was an event, of no fault of your own, that you have had to endure…. Either way, figuring out a way to apply gratitude can yield powerful, life-changing results, both for you and for people who you can help walk through the very same things.
You have a depth of understanding and potential empathy that someone else desperately needs. Applying gratitude will always strengthen your own character and deepen your own wisdom.
I encourage you to try. For some of you, this might be a simple thing. For others, it might be a most difficult thing for me to ask of you.
But try. Your ability to leverage your past through the filter of gratitude might be the very thing that helps change someone else’s life.
You might not keep all of Egypt alive, but you could have deep impact on a few people who need just what you have to offer.