Have you ever had a time in your life which, when you were in the middle of it, it felt as though it might bring you harm – and yet, when you reached the other side, you could see how God turned it around, and transformed it for good?

I have been thinking about this a lot in recent months.

It’s because I’ve been meditating on the Biblical story of Joseph – and because this type of ‘turnaround’ is so central to what happens in his story.

Earlier this year, during a season when Christmas felt far off in the future, I was one of 25 writers who were each invited to write a reflection about Advent, to go into a brand new book – The Jesse Tree Anthology – which is suitable for all the family. (If it’s of interest, you can buy a copy through my website shop!)

We were all allocated a different Bible character, and asked to consider how their stories pointed towards Jesus – and I was given Joseph, whose story is contained in Genesis 37-50.

One of the things I love most about the story of Joseph comes when, shortly after their father has died, his brothers start to panic that Joseph will wreak revenge on them for all the hurt they caused him when he was younger.

“What if Joseph holds a grudge against us, and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” they ask each other, their fear palpable in the question.

“Please forgive our sins,” they plead, in a message they send to Joseph, before visiting him and throwing themselves prostrate on the floor before him.

Given the harm his brothers have caused him, Joseph’s response is quite remarkable – and so full of compassion, tenderness and mercy.

“Don’t be afraid,” he says, “Am I in place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

(Genesis 50: 14-21)


How many of us can look back to times in our lives when it has felt as though the situation we were facing was going to bring us harm?

And how many of us now, with the benefit of hindsight, can see how God took that situation, turned it around, and transformed it for good, bringing his “light through the cracks” into the midst of it?

Often they catch us unawares, and it’s tough to push through them, wondering when and how they are ever going to end. But there is something to be said for looking for glimpses of God in the midst of them.

In Joseph’s case, his brothers plotted to kill him, threw him into a pit, and then changed their minds when they sold him as a slave to some passing traders, who were heading for Egypt. When he was unfairly accused by his Egyptian employer’s wife, he ended up in prison, forgotten and abandoned for over a decade.

How much hurt and harm did this cause Joseph? How must he have felt it in the middle of it?

Yet God took it, turned it around, and transformed it for good – with Joseph subsequently becoming Pharoah’s second-in-command and leading the nation in preparing for famine.


As you look back at your life, I don’t know what situations you are facing at the moment, or have faced in the past.  

Maybe it was the diagnosis you received from a doctor, which you would rather not have had. Or the letter from your landlord, giving notice to end your tenancy. Or the irretrievable breakdown of a significant relationship. Or the conversation with your boss, which led to your role being made redundant. Or the moment you opened the front door to find a police officer standing on your doorstep, with news of a family fatality. Or …

As you look back, are you able to see glimpses of God in the midst of what you were going through? And if you can’t, perhaps you could ask him to show you?

In Ephesians 6:13, Paul writes this: “Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.”

Have you ever noticed the word when in this verse? Paul doesn’t say if the day of evil comes. He says when the day of evil comes. He’s reminding us that “days of evil” are par for the course. They don’t come with an opt-out clause. All of us will face them at some point in our lives.

When we face situations that could harm us, or “days of evil” to quote Paul, we need to make a choice. We need to put on the full armour of God, stand our ground, and trust that: “In all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Not just some things, but all things.

If we love God, and have been called by God, then he works for our good, and his glory, to achieve his purpose.

The bottom line is that God is a good God. He is faithful and loving, compassionate and kind, merciful and forgiving. He holds the big picture. He is in control.

And he specialises in taking what has been intended for harm, turning it around, and transforming it into good.


Perhaps you are facing a situation at the moment, in which it feels as though it is intended to bring your harm. If so, how can you invite God into it, to turn it around, and transform it for good?

Or perhaps you are able to look back at a situation, with the benefit of hindsight, and see how God transformed what was intended for harm into good. If so, how did he do this, and have you ever thanked him for it?

As ever, constructive comments are welcome below!

Also, don’t forget that you can buy The Jesse Tee Anthology through my website shop, where you can read my full devotional reflection on the story of Joseph, and how it points to Jesus.

Please note: This is my ‘thought for the month’ reflection for September. (You can find all my ‘thought for the month’ reflections here.)

Photo from Mark1657 via Pixabay.



  1. So many situations, and so many hindsight reflections. He is good all the time, but we can often fail to see it. “Hindsight is a wonderful thing” but I love the encouragement to fortify ourselves NOW and to actively invite God into our situations as they arise. Thank you, Jo!

    • Joanna Watson Reply

      Thank you Natasha. Hindsight is, indeed, a wonderful thing! I hope that, as you reflect on all the things you have faced, you’ll be able to see God’s goodness.

  2. This makes me think about my difficult time in Ghana 8 years ago and how God used that for good when I went back last month. I could use my previous experience to understand the context far better and to empathise more fully with those who were suffering. Thank you for this thought for the month!

    • Joanna Watson Reply

      I’m so glad you’ve been able to resonate with this thought for the month, and that it’s reminded you of an incident in your own life where this has come to pass. How precious is that?!

  3. Pingback: Introducing the Jesse Tree tradition - Joanna Watson

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