Inspired by . . . the Joseph story
Do you know Joseph’s story?
How as a young man, Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. He then spent several years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Finally, after interpreting a dream for the Pharaoh, he was made second in command. In all the land, only Pharaoh ranked above Joseph.
It was during this time that a great famine came over the land. Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt looking for food, because their people were starving.
Joseph hadn’t seen his brothers in nearly thirty years. Not since the day they’d thrown him into a deep pit and then sold him to the next passing caravan of traders.
Joseph was now in charge of all of Pharaoh’s affairs. Including the distribution of food.
How do you think Joseph responded to his brother’s request?
How would you respond after being betrayed?
Here is Joseph’s response:
And Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?" But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. So Joseph said to his brothers, "Come near to me, please." And they came near. And he said, "I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
Joseph’s brothers were dismayed because they knew Joseph now had the power to even the score. “Off with their heads!” might have been the next words out of Joseph’s mouth.
When we see injustice in our world, or are faced with it in our own lives, we are often tempted to respond in one of three ways.
1. Impatience, vengeance and vindictiveness. We tire of waiting for God to act, or determine that He’s not going to act, and take matters in to our own hands.
2. Anxiety and worry. We’re fearful because we don’t know the outcome.
3. Grumbling, blaming. We feel powerless against the person that has wronged us so we blame God, or the people closest to us.
But Joseph’s story gives us another perspective. It introduces another element to the situation.
Commentator Carroll E. Simcox said, “Joseph had gone through human hell, and human sin had put him through it. But human sin wasn’t the whole story; divine Providence was in it too.”
It’s difficult to see the hand of God when we’re in the dark bit of despair, or when we’re grieving, but His hand is there. Acknowledging His presence and His providence doesn’t excuse human sin, but it does give us a starting place for forgiveness.
Some things are easy to forgive and some are not. The process of forgiveness is different for each on of us. Sometimes the key is simply acknowledging our inability to forgive, and asking God to help us do what we cannot do ourselves.
Maybe Joseph’s story is your story, too.
Give us the grace and wisdom, dear Lord, to know that Thy
gracious hand is ever over us in all our troubles,
and give us the patience to wait until Thou dost
make all things plain;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
~Carroll E. Simcox
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