Yesterday we talked about Joseph, a favored child of Jacob. His siblings weren’t happy about this favoritism to begin with, but when Jacob gave Joseph a beautiful coat – that was the last straw! First off, they throw Joseph in a well, eventually they sell him into slavery. But they take his beautiful coat, cover it with goat blood, and bring it home to Jacob. Jacob assumes that Joseph has been eaten by an animal…and is inconsolable.
This is a terrible thing. I have three brothers. Anyone with multiple siblings understands that there will be the inevitable pairing off and fighting dynamic. One day three of us tried to suffocate one of our brothers with a mattress. It was a half-hearted attempt at best, and he escaped without nary a scratch. But in all seriousness, and as bad as we were to take that action, I remember that we children believed that this particular brother was being treated “differently” – and we resented it. As a parent myself, I now have the experience to understand that there is wisdom in treating one’s children fairly, but not necessarily the same – because children are all unique creatures. But as an eight year old, this kind of knowledge was way above my head.
As I reminisce about my family, and as many of us will gather with our extended families over the holidays, it is safe to say that some of these old family rivalries and insecurities will continue…unless we change our way of thinking.
For me, it is no longer acceptable to give myself permission to hold a decades old grudge. This isn’t because my family is necessarily learning from past mistakes, or actually doing things differently – because, frankly, we’ve made progress but no one has reached perfection. Each of us could point an aging finger at others, or, we can learn to do something different.
Joseph’s life continued to be both blessed and burdened. He wasn’t miraculously freed from his enslavement, he rose to the challenge and was recognized for his gifts and talents, he was falsely accused of sexual misconduct and got thrown into jail, was promised assistance by the chief cupbearer (who he helped while in jail) but then was quickly forgotten..on and on it goes for Joseph. How did he take all this?
He remembered. He somehow had the presence of mind to know that the Lord was with him. When the prison warden showed him kindness and granted him favor – Joseph knew that God was with him. This didn’t spring him from jail, but it changed Joseph’s experience while he was IN jail. Joseph will remain in jail for two more years before that forgetful chief cupbearer is reminded of his shortcomings and gives Pharaoh the information necessary to call for Joseph himself.
Inspired by Joseph, I pray for the wisdom to remember who God is and what he’s up to – and respond accordingly. Can we try, together, to deflect our eyes away from all the circumstances and disappointments of the day, and choose to aggressively look for “God with us”? Tomorrow, we’ll hear from Joseph himself, so that we won’t go all crazy in applying this principle and start thinking that we should FEEL HAPPY about all these disappointing circumstances…because that’s not the point. to be continued….