“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done…” Genesis 50:20
It’s unbelievable how cruel and evil people can be. I’m not talking about your run-of-the-mill playground bullies and in-laws; I’m speaking of those that do things that are so unbelievably abhorrent that it stirs up such strong feelings of rage and injustice that we can’t do anything but shake our heads in disgust. This morning, I saw firsthand how absolutely AWFUL people can be; I also got to witness how God–in a way–can turn the tables and use the acts of the wicked for His own purposes.
First, though, I’d like to give you a little bit of the backstory of Joseph. The Scripture above was said to his brothers who, years before, resented him so much that they sold him into slavery and convinced his father that he had been attacked and killed by a wild animal. Back in those days, there was no forensics, nor were there police or a coroner to follow up on his alleged death. On top of that, not only was Joseph sold as a slave and later imprisoned, but they broke their father’s heart with their lies of Joseph’s alleged (and in their minds imperative) demise. These guys were jerks, to say the least.
But God had a plan…
The story continues following Joseph as God gives him the ability to interpret dreams, which eventually leads to him becoming the second in command in the nation. During that time, he saved the nation from perishing from a seven-year famine…how’s that for a turn of events? Furthermore, when his brothers came to him for food, he was able to forgive them for all they had done to him, saying the wise words in the above key Scripture.
Fast-forward to today, when a group of rabble-rousers (to put it nicely) from the Westboro “Baptist Church” showed up to protest at the funeral of a local young Marine who perished in the line of duty. These are the cretins who go around saying that GOD is killing soldiers as a judgement for America’s tolerance of homosexuality. They spew hatred everywhere they go, all in the name of God, offending and enraging all they come into contact with.
But I noticed something–their efforts ended up being counterproductive to their cause. Community members today showed up in HUNDREDS to support the family of a man most of them had never met, waving flags and drowning out the protesters (all four of them) with their patriotism. The sheer number of people and flags turned the gutwrenchingly disrespectful protest into a rally of love and support for the family–score one for the good guys, right?
It gets better…
Cornerstone Church (the church that was hosting the funeral), stepped up to the plate to share the exact OPPOSITE message from the one that was being broadcast across the street. They showed that God LOVES people through actions of service. They provided a shuttle to the rally of supporters. They also provided–at no cost–coffee and hot chocolate to the hundreds standing out in the cold. I didn’t hear a single word of disrespect towards the protesters across the street, nor have I heard a word of slander from the leadership team all WEEK on Facebook, despite the high emotions surrounding this event. In fact, from the beginning they have CONTINUALLY encouraged the community to peacefully support the family WITHOUT interacting with the protesters. Their silent message of love, peace, and service spoke MUCH louder than the offensive shouts and signage of those proclaiming the wrath of God.
So many members of the community were worried that the attendance of the Westboro Baptist Church members would mar an already difficult day of mourning; I was glad to see that, in fact, God CAN take a less-than-ideal situation and use it to show His love to not just a family, but a village.