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?

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. Then again, sometimes those folks are a little difficult to identify. I’ll tell you a foolproof way of knowing who they are.

It’s what I call the “grocery store dodge.” You’re in aisle five reaching for a jar of mayonnaise, and you see her turn the corner. Your breath catches, but, thankfully, she stops to peruse the pickles. You’re able to avoid eye contact, and you quickly turn for the produce aisle. You’re trying the best you can to avoid her when, suddenly, here she comes around the counter of fancy cheeses, and you’re forced to act pleasantly surprised by the encounter. You say in a high-pitched voice, “Oh, hey! It’s so good to see you!”

We do that, don’t we?

The next time you find yourself avoiding someone in the grocery store, I want you to see it as God’s way of telling you it’s time to forgive, time to let go of whatever happened between you and that person. God is using that person to teach you, to train you, to get you where He wants you to be. After you’ve chosen to forgive, you can thank God for putting that person in your life.

Why not play the grocery store game in your head right now? Think of the difficult people in your past for whom you can begin to give thanks.

If you’d like to learn more about how gratitude can change your life, click here.