Today’s reading is Gen 39, 41, 43, and 45
As you read through these chapters today did any one phrase stand out to you? “And the Lord was with Joseph” seemed to jump out at me every time as I read through these chapters last night. I love the story of Joseph. I always have. One of my favorite Broadway musicals is “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” even though the writer wrote it as a joke because the Bible story seemed so ridiculous and outlandish to him. (If you read through Joseph’s story in the Bible and don’t know or believe in God, the story is ridiculous and outlandish!) But when you read through the story believing in God, the ridiculousness brings to light God’s power and His sovereign plan. This story shows us that no matter the circumstances, no matter the amount of time spent in despair, no matter the hopelessness of the situation, God is with us and knows what we are experiencing. He also knows how the story will end.
Joseph’s life feels like a roller coaster ride to me. Joseph was born to his father in his old age by Jacob’s favorite wife, sold into slavery by his brothers who were jealous of him, sold again to Pharaoh’s staff, made chief of staff by Potiphar because he was so successful in his work, wrongfully accused of trying to have his way with Potiphar’s wife and imprisoned for it, given the responsibility of running the prison from inside, pulled out of prison to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams, made ruler of Egypt because he proved to be wise, stored up bumper crops for seven years to be ready to combat a seven year famine, asked to sell grain to the brothers (who sold him into slavery) who came seeking help during the famine, and finally reunited with his father and family. That is quite a ride!
Throughout all of the crazy unfair circumstances Joseph found himself in, the Bible says, “and the Lord was with Joseph”. The people in Joseph’s life recognized that God was with him because his work produced such solid results and he gave God the credit over and over for his ability to interpret other people’s dreams correctly. The people around him knew he was filled with God’s spirit and saw the results of his good management. Joseph trusted in God during slavery enough to keep his head down, do his work and be noticed for his results, to be chosen by leadership to move straight to chief of staff. Then later in his life from being pulled out of a prison cell to interpret a dream, to ruling over the entire country. Those are some pretty daunting situations to live faithfully through. Would I be able to keep my focus on God and be ready for the next step in those same circumstances? Makes me wonder if I give God credit for the things He does in my life enough for the people around me to know that God is with me.
At the end of our reading for today in chapter 45, Joseph’s brother’s have come to him again to purchase grain to keep the family alive and his brother’s still haven’t recognized him. Verse 4 says, “I am Joseph, your brother whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh-the manager of His entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.” Whoa…this is not a normal response to people who have wronged one so greatly. It is pretty clear that all of the years that God was with Joseph, He was teaching Joseph to love others the way He loves people. This story is set up perfectly for revenge, but God’s response is forgiveness and mercy. It is a beautiful picture of who God is and how he responds to us. I am all for seeing and receiving God’s forgiveness and mercy. When it is aimed at me, there is nothing more beautiful. When I see it aimed at people whom I feel wronged by, the truth is that I sometimes still want justice for them. I am in desperate need of more time “with the Lord” so He can continue to help me learn to love like He loves.