"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." Genesis 50:20 (ESV)
Here in the United States, we are told from a young age about the Pilgrims who voyaged to America in 1620 and survived largely because of a Native American man named Squanto. It's told as a quaint history of the first Thanksgiving, but the seemingly tidy story doesn't begin to explore the complex circumstances and the lives of the people who were there.
Squanto's story alone is one of bravery and mercy in the face of tragedy and injustice. Kidnapped by an Englishman as a young man, he was sold into slavery in Spain. Eventually, he escaped and was able to make his way back to North America, but when he arrived he discovered his entire tribe had succumbed to smallpox. He went to live with another tribe, the Wampanoag, and through them, he was introduced to the Pilgrims at Plymouth.
Squanto had learned English during his time in Europe and had been instructed in the Christian faith, but he had a choice in whether he would help the colonists. After all, they were English by birth, and he and his people had suffered much because of the colonists. Despite this, in an act of great mercy, Squanto not only helped the Plymouth colony form an alliance with the Wampanoags, without whose knowledge the remaining Pilgrims most certainly would have starved, but he also remained an invaluable interpreter and ambassador for other groups of colonists as they arrived in America.
In many ways, Squanto's story mirrors that of the Old Testament Joseph, who was betrayed and sold into slavery by his own brothers. That act set him on a path on which he experienced great injustice at the hands of man, but great blessing from God. Later in life, Joseph had power and opportunity to punish his brothers for their treachery, but he chose mercy, providing for their needs instead.
The words Joseph spoke to his brothers in Genesis 50:20 evidence a life surrendered to God and the perspective to grasp why he had been through such trials. Like Joseph, Squanto's decision to give mercy led to the saving of many lives. Some Americans living today can actually trace their lineage back to Plymouth. If it were not for Squanto, they would not be here.
Every one of us will experience injustice at some point in our lives. Someone will do us wrong. We will be misunderstood. We may even be falsely accused of something. These experiences can be life-altering. What we must decide is how we will move forward in light of them. Will we nurse our pain or will we choose to trust that what man meant for evil, God meant for good? If we could see the end from the beginning, we might be more willing to submit to difficulty, but since we cannot, let us trust God for the outcome and seek to honor Him even when we don't understand the purpose for our pain.