Welcome! This is the third of six posts written for a series on The Story, and first posted on the Gloria Dei blog.
Joseph, of the Old Testament, goes from having it all, to having nothing. Life goes like that sometimes, doesn’t it? Everything seems to be going well, and then…we feel as if the rug has been pulled out from under us.
How do you react when this happens—do you lean in closer to God, or do you turn away?
To read the first two posts:
But The Lord is With Us
(First posted at Gloria Dei on September 26, 2012)
Coat of many colors Joseph.
That’s how I grew up knowing him. Scripture introduces us to Joseph when he is 17 years old, and he is clearly his father’s favorite child…as evidenced by the beautiful robe given to him.
To set the scene of this family dynamic, think about this for a moment.
Jacob had two wives, Leah and Rachel. Of these two sisters, (yes, sisters!) Jacob loved Rachel, but wasn’t interested in Leah. However, Jacob was tricked (by the girls’ father!) into marrying Leah before he could marry Rachel. If there wasn’t already some tension between Leah and Rachel, there was now. (Genesis 29-30)
The relationship between the two goes from bad to worse as Leah has four sons and Rachel is unable to have children. Jealousy is never a good thing, and there is plenty of it in this family.
At long last, Rachel gives birth to a son, Joseph. Jacob is now advanced in years and finally has a son with Rachel—his favorite son—Joseph.
After years of living with the rivalry between Leah and Rachel, and Joseph obviously being daddy’s favorite, it’s not surprising that Jacob’s other sons don’t care for Joseph.
Joseph’s not doing too bad though…he’s got Jacob’s approval, a beautiful ornate robe, and he’s sharing dreams of others bowing down to him with his family.
And then the rug gets pulled out from under him.
I wonder if he ever saw it coming.
When life takes a turn we didn’t anticipate, what do we do?
In times of trials, we can choose to turn one of two ways…toward God, where we grow closer to Him and learn to trust, depend, and rely on God and His promises. Or, away from God, often blaming Him for our circumstances.
Joseph certainly could have turned away from God in this lousy turn of events, but it appears that he grew closer to God.
It’s not until after Joseph has been sold into slavery in Egypt that Scripture says…
“The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.” Genesis 39:2-3
“But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. Genesis 39:20b-23
During trial after trial, Joseph turned to God and trusted Him, and God prepared Joseph for the future.
What if our stories read like Joseph’s?
She struggled through another miscarriage, but the Lord was with her. He comforted her and walked beside her.
He lost all that he had worked for, but the Lord was with him; He lifted him up and showed the man a new beginning.
The unwanted divorce papers arrived and crushed what was left of her spirit, but the Lord was with her. He walked with her through the valley, giving her the strength she needed to move on.
In our lower stories, all we can see is what’s going on around us. Often times, it’s impossible to see how good can come from what we’re going through. But it’s in the trials when God gets our attention. When we’re broken is when He can do the greatest work in us, preparing us for what He has planned.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
The Lord sees it all. Just as He knew how Joseph’s lower story fit into His upper story, the Lord knows the same about us.