Oh, to be like Joseph!
There is no record of Joseph questioning God about anything that unjustly or unfairly happened to him. As a young boy, God gave Joseph dreams where his brothers and family bowed to him, but the fulfillment of his dreams would not be experienced until he was in his 30’s. And it was not until Joseph experienced a life of humility and obedience that this came to pass. I wonder, what if, Joseph had demanded that his brothers and family bow to him before God’s perfect time was accomplished? Suppose Joseph had “hurried” God’s plan instead of waiting patiently for it to come to pass? We will never know, since Joseph did neither and allowed God’s perfect plan to unfold in His perfect timing.
Could it be that God’s greatest plans for our lives are IN the suffering or what is produced in and through us by the suffering?
I doubt many of us will experience slavery and imprisonment, in our lifetime, but slavery and prison could be equated with financial hardships, chronic health issues, dysfunctional families, 24/7 pain, job-related injustices, prodigal children, the “untimely” death of a child, mental illness, and the list goes on.
Obviously, Joseph never took anything that happened to him, personally, and was an incredible witness for God in these places of disdain. His goal was to benefit others, no matter their status in life. Self was not his focus, but rather the lives of…others.
Let’s just suppose a few things. Let’s suppose, Joseph was filled with “righteous indignation” for his brothers’ hatred and unjust treatment of him. Certainly, God had already revealed through his dreams they would bow to him, why not now? Let’s suppose, Joseph began to doubt God’s plan and he chose to embrace a “victim” mentality and became a complainer. Let’s suppose, Joseph, rightly, defended himself when Potiphar’s wife accused him of trying to rape her. Let’s just suppose, Joseph was a whiner, while in prison, instead of one who tended the needs of the other prisoners. Let’s just suppose, Joseph took credit for his ability to interpret dreams. What do you suppose would have been the outcome of all of the above…in relation to Joseph and in relation to those Joseph’s life touched?
Allow me to point out that the “success in whatever he did” was directly related to causing pagans, those who did not know/follow Joseph’s God, to recognize the One True God! The Pharaoh proclaimed, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in who is the spirit of God?” Joseph was careful to give God alone the glory for the things he accomplished, including his interpretation of the Pharaoh’s dreams. Joseph appears to have no pride. Some label Joseph a “tattler” and a “boaster”, when he was young, but his actions in Egypt, as a slave and prisoner, were those of a wise and humble man and God blessed him for it. Joseph not only surrendered to the WHATEVER God planned, but he embraced it fully.
As the story of Joseph unfolds, God orchestrates events, unjust as they may seem to us, so the Pharaoh ultimately puts Joseph in charge, second-in-command, over all of Egypt, “lord of his entire household and ruler of all of Egypt”. Joseph’s resume’ stated he had just been released from prison and he was a foreigner in the land. But…God! Only Pharaoh was to be considered above Joseph. This is in the land of Egypt, not the land of Israel. God continued to be with Joseph in this new position of Egyptian authority, as I am sure Joseph continued to point others to Him, in a way that was attractive and appealing with wisdom and discernment.
The climax of Joseph’s story comes when his brothers come seeking food from him, during a time of severe famine. The same brothers who plotted for his demise, those who hated Joseph were begging him for food so their family could survive. This was the fulfillment of the dreams Joseph had as a young lad. When they realized Joseph was their brother, whom they had sold into slavery so many years before, they were petrified. Joseph explained, “Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. So, it was not you who sent me here, but God.”
So, Joseph is completely assured that all that has happened to him was directly from God.
Wow! Most of us would be in awe of this high-level of “forgiveness”, but let me remind you, the scriptures never mention Joseph “forgave” his brothers. Apparently, Joseph had no reason to forgive them, since he saw their actions as being part of God’s divine plan, not actions against him. Interesting, to say the least, huh? Remember, our “battle is notagainst flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
The ultimate Joseph attitude?
Reassuring his brothers after their father died, Joseph said,
“What you meant for evil, God meant for good, to accomplish what is now being done the saving of many lives.”