Monday, January 21, 2013

Genesis -- Joseph

It is one of the questions that I get asked more often than any other: "Why did this happen to me?" There seems to be some inherent sense of entitlement among Christians that somehow God will protect them from worry, pain or difficulties. The stark reality is that difficulties and pain are the context of life -- worry on the other hand is a choice about how we will respond to those difficulties and/or pain.

 Look at the life of Joseph. He is the favored (of 12) son of his father Jacob/Israel. He gets the better portion, he gets the better clothing (that special robe his father gave him) and he gets the favored dreams from God. His brothers, one father but four different mothers, are jealous and want to kill him and leave him dead in the wilderness. He is rescued by the eldest (Reuben acting like the eldest) but it is Judah that comes up with the money making scheme to sell him into slavery. He is sold as a slave to the Ishmaelites (note more relatives in this rather bizarre family system) who in turn sell him into slavery in Egypt.

I am sure that Joseph had his dark moments in the caravan and the early days of slavery. I am sure this continues when  he is wrongfully accused and is imprisoned in Egypt. What if Joseph had looked at his current circumstances and just assumed that now that life has turned difficult and painful that God must have abandoned him? What if Joseph had chosen to worry and be bitter and ask "why did God do this to me?" or even "Why did this happen to me?" I wonder if the story even would be remembered or remembered differently. Joseph chose to trust God NO MATTER WHAT THE CURRENT CIRCUMSTANCES and trusted that God would use him to make a difference in the world.

We find, when he sees his brothers again after his rise to power in Egypt that he is a little bitter and works to get a little "pay back". We also find that when it comes to the climax that he is graceful and forgiving and protects and cares for his family. The great quote in Genesis 50 that sums it up so well is "you meant it for evil but God meant it for good.Genesis 50:20)."

If we could just see ourselves as being agents of God's grace no matter what the external circumstances we would find ourselves surrounded by divine appointments at every turn and in every place.

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