Three Words to Remember

Submitted by: Kahu Wendell Davis. | April 7, 2020

But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. – Genesis 50:19-20 Have you ever wondered who the first Native Hawaiian convert to Christianity was? What inspired the first missionaries to come to the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands and bring with them, the gospel of Jesus Christ? The answer to both questions is Henry “Obookiah”, or better known as Henry ‘Ōpūkaha’ia. His story is one of the most remarkable in Christian history. Born during a time when Hawaiians were contending for island control through ruling chiefs, ‘Ōpūkaha’ia, at the age of ten, saw his parents slain before his eyes and his infant brother killed with a pahoa (spear), while he was carrying him to safety.

‘Ōpūkaha’ia was captured and served the chief who had murdered his parents. He was later rescued by his uncle, a high priest, who desired that ‘Ōpūkaha’ia be trained in the Hawaiian priesthood as kahuna. Now an orphan, ‘Ōpūkaha’ia vowed to leave the island seeking an opportunity for peace in his heart and mind. When the Triumph, navigated by Captain Caleb Britnall, arrived in Kealakekua Bay on Hawai’i Island, ‘Ōpūkaha’ia, along with his friend, Thomas and three other Hawaiian young men, seized this great opportunity and sailed from these islands. Arriving in New England and under the tutelage of the Dwight family, ‘Ōpūkaha’ia grew in speech and writing. When he arrived in New Haven, Connecticut in 1809, he was illiterate, but, in nine years, he was eloquent in English, Hawaiian, and Hebrew, with a working knowledge of Greek and Latin. ‘Ōpūkaha’ia pioneered the movement of Hawaiian language from an oral tradition to a written one. He also translated the Book of Genesis into the Hawaiian language. ‘Ōpūkaha’ia became convinced of a need for a Savior and ultimately had a miraculous conversion to the Christian faith. Though he died at the age of 26 years of typhus fever never to return to his beloved homelands, his memoirs were the face and faith that helped launch a ship to bring the gospel to Hawai’i and its people. Like ‘Ōpūkaha’ia, our life is filled with “zigzag” moments. It would be great to go from point A to point B, but realistically, our lives have detours that take us from point A to F, then, back to C, then down to Q and so forth. It’s full of ups and downs, peaks and valleys, positives and negatives, good and worse. You never know what “letter” God will throw at you, but, don’t give up because He’s taking you somewhere. All you need to do is trust Him.

‘Ōpūkaha’ia’s story reminds me of Old Testament Joseph in the Book of Genesis. His life, too, is full of “zigzags”! One day, he’s in a coat. The next day, he’s in a pit. One day, he’s got a good job. The next day, he’s accused of rape. One day, he’s in prison. The next day, he’s the governor of Egypt. His journey began at seventeen, but, twenty-two years later, he faces his “bullying” brothers and in our scripture reading, he uses three words that I want you to remember: EVIL, GOD, GOOD. Joseph said, “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” His brothers meant everything they did to him. THEY MEANT EVIL. BUT, GOD. (Anytime you see “but, God” in the Bible—PAY ATTENTION—because what comes next will change everything). BUT GOD MEANT IT FOR GOOD. Notice that Joseph uses “meant” twice. What Joseph is saying to his brothers is that the “mess” you meant (EVIL) is the “mess” God meant (GOOD)! When we understand the sovereignty of God, we know that nothing comes to us without flowing through His fingers and when it comes to God’s thoughts and ways, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t make sense at all. HE’S NOT SUPPOSED TO. Joseph now knows that God did this on purpose. 

Before our lives were changed by this virus, life was predictable. We could count on going from point A to point B. Money in the bank, weekends at the beach, planned vacations, in fact, our comfort zones may have been “clicking” on all “cylinders”. But now, we face a detour and don’t know what’s coming up next. All the things that we’ve been accustomed to has been shut down. 

I’d like to encourage you today, that though it may seem that we are in the “pit” of this pandemic or feel “imprisoned” by governmental mandates, the goal of God’s sovereignty hasn’t changed. Here it is. Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose”. Since God is still working “all things together” (not just a few things), you are too blessed to be stressed! He’s still in control!