Joseph was favored by his father, Jacob. Jacob gave Joseph a special coat, a coat of many colors. Joseph’s older brothers were jealous.
Joseph was favored by God. God gave dreams to the 17-year-old Joseph, dreams that predicted his family would someday bow down to him. His brothers could not say a kind word to Joseph.
Joseph was betrayed by his brothers. They kidnapped him and sold him into slavery. He found himself in bondage in a foreign land, in Egypt.
Then things got worse. Joseph was falsely accused and unjustly condemned. He went from slavery to prison.
After 13 years of captivity, Joseph was suddenly freed and elevated to a position of great political power in Egypt. Only God could have engineered such a stunning reversal.
Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave Joseph a wife. Soon he had 2 sons. He was ready to move on and to forget the past, to forget his brothers and his father. But God had another plan.
Joseph was near 40-years-old when his brothers came to Egypt. They came to buy grain because of the severe famine. After hiding his identity and testing them to see if they had changed, Joseph reconciled with his brothers.
Joseph’s brothers were apprehensive to say the least. After all, they had betrayed Joseph. He now had the power to exact revenge. They were at his mercy.
But Joseph made an astonishing assertion: God was ultimately responsible for sending Joseph to Egypt. True, his brothers were guilty of a heinous crime against him. But God used Joseph’s suffering for their salvation. Joseph was now in a position to save his brothers and his entire family from starvation.
Does God really use evil to accomplish good? Since God is all-powerful and all-good, we must conclude that he allows evil to exist. And since God is all-good, we can rightly deduce that he will use evil to bring about a greater good.
When betrayed by his own brothers and sold into servitude, Joseph was not yet ready to consider the idea that his suffering would save his brothers. His brothers! They who sold him like a piece of property.
Thrown into prison for a crime he did not commit, Joseph was not ready to hear that his pain would serve a greater good. Even after he was released from prison, elevated to power and blessed with his own family, he only wanted to forget the past. He was not ready to think that God was using his pain to save others.
Only after decades of life was Joseph ready to see and accept God’s plan to use his sorrow in order to save many. God’s mysterious ways are often better understood in retrospect.
Much of what Jesus did made no sense to his disciples at the time. Later, with the help of God’s Spirit, they were able to see that God used a terrible loss to bring about a great victory.
The death of God’s sinless and perfect Son, Jesus, was the most heinous and deplorable crime of this age. Yet God used Jesus’ sacrificial suffering to achieve eternal salvation for all his people, elevating him to the ultimate victory through his resurrection and ascension.
As sons and daughters of the God of Joseph and faithful followers of his Son Jesus, we too can be certain that whatever suffering God allows in our lives will surely contribute to eternal victory. Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).
May the Lord give us eyes to see and hearts to agree with his great plan,
Brother Richard Foster