Have you ever had a sibling that felt it was necessary to rat you out constantly? What about a kid in school? Has a co-worker ever told your boss things that makes you look bad? Well, if so, then you will be able to relate to our next “Life Starter”, Joseph.
A bit of background first….
Joseph was one of twelve sons of Jacob. He was the 2nd youngest, which means that Jacob was older when Joseph was born. Eventually, all the sons of Jacob would one day be the “tribes of Israel”. One day they would be the fulfillment of Abraham’s promise from God. Unfortunately, Joseph needed to go through some things that seemed difficult.
As I was reading over the story of Joseph, there were a few things that came to mind. First, Joseph is introduced to us as a “tattle-tale”. We see that Joseph had ‘spoken badly about his brothers to his father’. There is no reference as to why, so what I am about to say is strictly ‘opinion’. I personally believe Joseph was not only immature, but felt that he could go further in life by telling on his brothers. If not, he was at least not “street smart”. Obviously, this would make his brothers angry.
Next, we see that Jacob favored Joseph over all his brothers. In fact, Jacob made a special garment for Joseph. It was the most beautiful of garments in that day. No where does it say that Joseph didn’t want it or didn’t wear it. Later in the story we see that Joseph wore the garment regularly.
Lastly, we see Joseph telling his brothers about two dreams he had. He had told his brothers that they would one day bow down to him. But we do not see where God told him to inform his brothers of this. It was as if Joseph, having these dreams, understood what they were, but because of his immaturity, he decided to brag about them.
So what did his brothers eventually do? Well, if you hated your sibling that much, what would you have done? If you are like me, you would not talk with them, cut off all communication with them and regard them as non-existent. However, Joseph’s brothers wanted to do more than that. They wanted to kill Joseph. If it wasn’t for the youngest brother, Benjamin, they would have. However, Benjamin convinced them to fake Joseph’s death and sell him into slavery.
One day while Joseph was doing his chores, his father asked him to report what his brothers were doing. Notice it doesn’t say rat out or talk badly, it was simply to be an update. When Joseph arrived, the brothers jumped him, tore the garment that his father had made and threw Joseph into a pit. They slaughtered a lamb, dipped the garment into the blood and sold Joseph to an Egyptian. This is where I personally believe that Joseph started to understand what he had done.
Growing up in a church, I was always told that Joseph was simply being obedient to his father. However, after reading this story more and more, I am convinced that Joseph didn’t start out life that great. I also believe that it wasn’t until he was sold into slavery, that Joseph started to understand why all this “bad” stuff had happened.
Despite his rough beginning, Joseph ended his life on the right track. While he was still young, he worked for a high Egyptian officer. The officer’s wife wanted to commit adultery but Joseph wouldn’t have it. Joseph understood that to commit adultery was not just a sin against himself and his boss, but it was a sin against God. Unfortunately, Joseph ended up in prison because of lies the officer’s wife told.
While in prison, he was regarded highly by the guards and was put in charge of the inmates. There were two other inmates that were there and were about to be released. Joseph asked them to do him a favor and mention what had happened to him to the king. But these two men forgot about Joseph. It wasn’t until the king had a dream he couldn’t explain that one of them spoke up.
Over time, Joseph was released from prison and became the highest ranking officer (besides the king), in Egypt. During Joseph’s reign, he was able to bring all of Egypt and his family through a famine. He also confronted his brothers and all was worked out between them.
Now think about this for a moment. How many times do we go through horrific events only to ask, “God, why is this happening to me?” I know I’ve asked that question. What would happen if ‘bad things’ that happen to us were God’s way of preparing us for greater things in the future? What if the bad was to be turned to good? Isn’t that one of the promises of God.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and have been called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28 (NIV)
If ‘in all things’ means good or bad, then we see here that whether we face good times or bad times, God will work so that it will all turn out good and it will be because of His purpose, not ours.
We may start out life badly or make bad decisions, but God is able to take those bad situations and turn them around to profit the Kingdom. When we see the kingdom growing because of our bad circumstances, we will be joyous through our trials.
Back in April, I watched a good friend of mine enter the Kingdom of God. Prior to his death, we would pray with another friend of ours. It was amazing to see my friend, who was in process of dying, turn to us and say, “It is okay for me to suffer now. So long as others see Christ in it.” He was only a Christian for a few years, but learned a lesson that most of us ‘older’ Christians haven’t learned…to trust Christ withe everything.
It was through my friend’s suffering that more people heard about Christ. Until the day before he died, the visiting nurse had just started and in his pain he asked the nurse, “Do you know who Jesus is?” She responded, “I’ve heard.” His response was, “Then we need to talk. We are going to have many discussions on Jesus.”
Until his last breath, he wanted others to know about Jesus. This same nurse was there with us when he died. As I cried as my friends feet, telling him that he did a great job and to let go, she sobbed not understanding what had just happened. It was right after he took his last breath that I was able to share with her about the love of Christ. In fact, at least 2 others asked about Christ because they saw something that was strange to them. Even though we were saddened, we understood that one day we would see each other face to face, rejoicing in what God had done in our lives.
One day, I hope my life ends just as good as my friend’s and Joseph’s. Our lives may not start out the way we want them to, but remember, it is not about us but about the Kingdom of God. Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.
God bless and encourage someone today.