I’ve pondered the story of Joseph a lot. It certainly reads like a great movie, just on the cusp of good a few times hopes are dashed, and yet there is still a happy ending. I’ve wondered why it took so long. I’ve wondered if Joseph REALLY needed to go through all the hardships. I mean, isn’t being sold into slavery enough?
Jennie Allen writes in Restless “Joseph had a crazy dream. He was a young man, and he told his brothers that they were going to bow down to him. He was very clear in his gifts. He knew he could interpret dreams. He knew that when he was interpreting that it was from God, and he knew what it meant. And he knew that it was supposed to come true. He thought his gifts, and that even God were all about his own glory. “
Reflect: Genesis 50:15-26
15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.
18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
26 So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.
Jennie Allen summarize Genesis 50 on IF Equip’s Genesis study by saying, “There was a steadiness to Joseph’s life, not because it was all good, but because he hoped in God.” Western society teaches us that we should be able to buy the dream house our parents currently live in right out of college. We forget our parents first lived in apartments and had smaller homes as newlyweds. We expect the same when it comes to our spiritual walks. We see people seasoned with life, exuding faith and joy in trials and we expect we should track with them. We see seasoned people avoiding trials all together that seem to suck us in like quick sand. We forget that on the other side of that experienced response is a road less traveled, a desert experience we have not lived through. We desire the end result without the work, we demand it. When we fall short we surmise others must be faking it, or God doesn’t love us, for how could others have something we do not.
Record: What sticks out to you most about the last 3 weeks? How do you see your story in Joseph’s?
Review: Why did Joseph go through as many trials as he did? Why did it take so long for God to redeem him? I also wonder, did Joseph wait in that prison all those years because God was waiting for Joseph’s heart to soften so his best response would be his first response? “Don’t be afraid, am I in the place of God? For what you intended to harm me, for God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done and to save many lives.” In the wilderness Joseph learned his dream was about God’s glory, not his.
“The one who IS living water knows our emptiness, He takes our sin upon Himself. Sin separates us from God. And there will be a point in our lives, whether by our own wrongdoings or others, where we will fully know the pain of sin. And we will be thirsty. We will find ourselves with no strength to carry on.” Cherie Hill, Empty
For Joseph, the years of hoping in God through hard times allowed him to respond to his family with grace and forgiveness. For me, this life situation marked the beginning of my journey through a desert. I was desperately thirsty for companionship, self-imposed blinders I wore refused to allow me to see that God had forgiven me for my poor behavior, making my thirst unnecessary. I stepped onto the desert path half blind, and the longer I walked that path the more weeds with roots of bitterness, distrust and loneliness took root in my heart. I had already begun to limit God to a god who would fail me and the more I accepted this lie as truth, the louder the condemning words of those around me became my truth and the harder my path became to walk.
God never left Joseph’s side and it was apparent to all those around him. I’m not sure that as a 17 year old Joseph, a younger son, who had been hated for so long would have happily sacrificed himself for his family. His wilderness of being alone was not a part of the dream God shared with Joseph, but it certainly shaped Joseph’s character, and it certainly prepared him for his role in God’s story.