“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good . . .” – Genesis 50:20
In his recent bestselling book Grateful American, actor Gary Sinise tells the story about being seated on an airplane next to a man by the name of John Vigiano, who happened to be a retired firefighter with FDNY. Gary noticed John was wearing a button bearing a picture of his two sons, one a highly decorated New York City police officer, and the other, in the footsteps of his father, an FDNY firefighter. John wore the button in honor of his two sons who had sacrificed their lives in the Twin Towers’ collapse on 9/11, while valiantly and selflessly saving others. After sharing this story with Gary, John said something truly remarkable. “I believe more good came out of September 11 than evil,” this from a father who had tragically lost both his beloved sons.
Over lunch recently with one of my special friends, he began to share with me details about his childhood. Now, my friend happens to be a highly educated and successful businessman with a beautiful family who he adores. He is also one of those people whose broad smile and warm heart spreads joy everywhere he goes. Without knowing his background, one would never imagine the extreme cruelty, abuse and abandonment he suffered as a child. At the end of his story, though, as horrific as it was, he looked at me and shared something truly remarkable. “But the past is the past,” he concluded. “What matters is what we do with our lives going forward.”
Then there is Joseph, whose story is told in the book of Genesis, cruelly treated by his jealous brothers who sold him into Egyptian slavery, after which he was imprisoned on false charges, where he remained for years, separated from his beloved father Jacob who assumed him to be dead. Finally, after being called upon to interpret Pharaoh’s dream he was promoted to Pharaoh’s right-hand administrator which enabled him to rescue his family from starvation during a severe seven-year famine.
Three people, three tragic stories. All could have — and had every right to – embrace bitterness. Instead, they chose otherwise, trusting God to overrule the evil acts they had suffered and to use them for good. Their responses were truly remarkable, which Joseph summed up this way. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”