rev-dr-walter-t-richardson_web.jpgLooking back over 2012, it has been a tumultuous year. With several mass murders, unprecedented bad weather conditions, and the death of several stars, including Whitney Houston, we have become a nation of survivors.

And if we’ve been fortunate to make it to the end of another year, the same God that helped us though this year will help us through the next.

To help me focus, I turn often to the Hebrew Scriptures. And one of my favorite characters in the Bible is Joseph. Joseph was a young man of tremendous spiritual strength. He endured problems with his parents, an attempted murder of his life from his own brothers, a false arrest for rape, 13 years in a prison for the crime he did not commit — and then he is released from prison and given a position of prominence in the king’s palace.

Wow! From his parents, to the pit, to Potipher’s place, to prison, but then on to the palace. And, at no point in his life does Joseph seek revenge to those who have harmed, hurt, or harrassed him. Instead he uses his trials, teasings and tests as accomplishments.

What a perspective! Even at a point when he is at his emotional lowest — the death of his father — Joseph does not use his moment of grief as an incentive to get even with his brothers who tried to kill him. His brothers felt at that point that because they had been evil to Joseph, he would be cruel, too. Joseph assured them, even at that critical moment, of his merciful forgiveness of them.

The one major lesson for Joseph was, and remains for us: When God has a plan for your life, the path may be rugged, but in the end the manifestation of God’s purpose will bring Him glory and blessings for you!

God will probably not use the events of our lives to accomplish such amazing things in our own lives. It is not likely that He will use the trials and tragedies we face to save nations and accomplish His redemptive plan.

However, we can be sure of one thing: As we pass through this life, we can count on the fact that every valley and every victory is a part of His perfect plan for us and that He will use them all for our good and for His glory!

How does God use our problems to bring us to His place? Well, we learn how he directs us, how He discerns us, how He defends us and, how He develops us. We can say like Joseph, “You thought you had killed me, but God brought me back!”

Another way of saying that is, “Although you talked about me, misrepresented my motives, and you said I would never, ever amount to anything, I am blessed to bless.” (I call it recycled evil.) It turned out alright for Joseph. So remember, no matter what kind of precarious pit you are in now, God has a perfect plan and a prepared place for you, and this year turned out alright!

Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at Website: