“God sent me ahead of you to establish you as a remnant within the land and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Therefore it was not you who sent me here, but God. . . . You planned evil against me: God planned it for good to bring about the present result – the survival of many people.” Genesis 45:7-8a, and 50:20.
This devotional series’ Introduction described my struggle to make sense of certain trials I had faced. I turned to the Bible to determine if I had left the realm of God’s will. The lives of four “J”s in scripture enlightened me in this spiritual inquiry. We have previously considered Jonah and Job. Now, let’s move on to the third “J”, whose life story is found in Genesis chapters 37-50.
Joseph’s trials were varied and prolonged: bullied by his brothers, sold as a slave (twice), falsely accused of rape, and wrongly imprisoned for over two years. True, Joseph lacked tact when describing his dreams and wearing his multi-colored robe in chapter 37. But, like Job, Joseph did nothing wrong to warrant the trials he faced. God was not punishing or correcting Joseph. In fact, God was with Joseph through every unexpected turn in his life.
The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, serving in the household of his Egyptian master. Genesis 39:2.
But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him. He granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. Genesis 39:21.
Then Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find anyone like this, a man who has the spirit of God in him?” So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one as intelligent and wise as you.” Genesis 41:38-39.
Hopefully you know the rest of the story: Pharaoh elevates Joseph to second in command of all Egypt, directing him to steward its abundant produce during the seven years of plenty so that the people can survive the succeeding seven years of famine.
Why did Joseph experience his trials? God used them to literally, spiritually, and developmentally move Joseph to the place where God needed him. To rescue the line of Israel, this Hebrew boy needed to become a man of power in Egypt. To do well in that position, Joseph needed to develop his faith and reliance on God.
Joseph’s trial period lasted at least a decade, likely closer to two. It was only toward the end, when he encountered and forgave his brothers, that Joseph first saw the fullness of God’s purpose through it all.
As we struggle with trials, let us be mindful of Joseph’s life story, realizing that God may likewise develop and reposition us for a great future work. It may take a long time for us to see that end result, but “consider it a great joy” that you may be on such a path.
There’s one more “J” left. We’ll discuss him next time.