January 13 – Today’s Readings – Genesis 37-39 – and Psalms 13
I was wondering how things would have worked out for Joseph if his father had not favoured him more than his brothers – if Joseph had not repeated his dreams to his brothers and father – if his father had not always kept him at home, only sending him out to “spy” on his brothers or to do special missions for him. It’s unwise and unfair parenting to give such preferential treatment to one child over the others based on petty issues. Bad parenting made things more than a little tense in Jacob’s family – especially between Joseph and his brothers. We know the outcome of the story – how Joseph saved the family from starvation and provided them a place of shelter in Egypt. The question is whether God would have accomplished His will in Joseph’s life if the family had not been such a mess. I’m wondering whether all of Joseph’s intense suffering was really God’s explicit plan or whether “life happened” and God used very rotten circumstances and “worked them together for good” despite – his brothers – his father – his owner Potiphar – Potiphar’s lustful wife and the jailer. The answer, of course, is that God certainly would have accomplished His plan for Joseph had things been different, but he worked His will out for Joseph despite the family dynamics.
Suffering for no apparent reason is one of the great mysteries of life – we will be able to ask Jesus (and Joseph) about this and many other issues when we get to meet them. My suggestion to you in the mean time is to not be constantly asking the “Why God” question – it will only lead to frustration in your faith. Certain things we experience are mysteries and should be left that way.
The important thing to remember as we walk along this sometimes trouble-filled journey is to keep ourselves in the love of God – in the centre of His care for us. When troubles come, we need Him to walk with us through the valley. We can’t afford to become bitter towards Him and lose faith in the fact that He truly is with us. These “nasties” we sometimes face are only part of the sinful world we live in. Somehow Joseph got it right and was able stay sweet and in the love of God while living through his troubles. Through great examples like Joseph we too have learned the secret of being thankful to the Lord in all circumstances in life. Note that Scripture says “in” every circumstance but it does not mean “for” every circumstance. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) The lessons Joseph learned are the same lessons we have to learn in order to be successful in life – don’t get bitter, get better.
1. Please comment on a situation in your life where you had to be thankful even though things were not going in your favour.
2. How do you think Joseph managed to “stay sweet”?