Thanksgiving. What a wonderful holiday . . . a time to celebrate the many blessings in our lives. We may even share those blessings around the table on Thanksgiving Day. We’re certainly full of thanks for the people who make our lives a little brighter. aren’t we? But I want to challenge you to dig a little deeper. This year, we can choose to be grateful for even the difficult people in our lives.
I love the story of Joseph. It’s one of those where when you hear it, you say, I thought I had it bad, but this guy really had it bad.
Joseph had a wonderful life. He was the baby in a fairly prosperous family, and his father adored him. Everything was good until the day his own brothers plotted against him. They were tired of him because he was their father’s favorite, and they decided to kill him. Fortunately, one brother said, “Maybe we shouldn’t kill him. We could at least make some money off of him if we sold him into slavery.”
And you thought you had family problems!
Joseph’s brothers sold him, and he was taken to Egypt. Then, while he was a slave, he was accused of something he didn’t do, and he went from being a slave to being thrown into the darkest dungeon.
It was in that dungeon God gave him a gift of being able to interpret the Pharaoh’s dreams. Joseph suddenly was raised to the rank of second in command over all of Egypt. So he went from the lowest to the highest, something only God can orchestrate.
Years later, his brothers, who were starving because of a famine in their land, made their way to Egypt, where they bowed down before this guy and begged for food, completely unaware of who he was. Joseph recognized them and said, “Hey, guys, remember me?”
Can you imagine the fear that ran through those boys when they realized they were bowing before the brother they had sold into slavery?
Joseph’s response is amazing. It’s epic. We find it in Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many.”
That’s a whole different attitude, isn’t it? There are probably some people in your life who really meant to do you in. There was nothing good at all in their plans. Can you say, Thank you, God, because where that person meant it for bad, You meant it for good?
I know it’s not easy. I know it from experience. If you could see my forehead, you’d notice the word “sucker” inscribed on it because I’ll tell you something about myself: I’m one of the biggest suckers on the planet. I am trusting and will believe anybody about anything, which is why I’m so very thankful God gave me Kim. My wife has a finely-tuned crap-o-meter. She has the amazing gift of discernment. Sometimes a person will tell me something, and I’ll be falling all over myself, saying, “Oh, my goodness, did you hear what he said? Isn’t that the greatest thing in the world?”
I’m just falling for this thing, and my wife will say, “Whoa! Wait a second.” Her meter is beeping like crazy to warn me something is not right.
The problem is that I don’t always listen, and so I’ll go that direction, and I’ll trust, and I’ll let it happen. And before you know it, I find myself right back at the mercy of people who meant it for evil, who meant to harm, who meant bad. But you know what? Even then, God says, “I meant it for good. There’s some good that can come out of it. Yeah, you fall for everything, but I’m using that person to teach you a little bit of wisdom. I’m using this to grow you up.” Whatever has been meant for evil, God can redeem and use. That person might have meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.
We all have people in our life about whom we can instantly say, As tough as it is, I realize I should be thankful for that person. Who is that person in your life right now?
If you’d like to read more about gratitude and how it can drastically change your life, click here for a free copy of my book, Stones of Gratitude.