at the Water's Edge

Living life and learning all I can along the way!

Joseph: Recognizing God's Hand in All Situations

I decided at the beginning of the year that I wanted to read through the Bible chronologically.  I feel like this will help pull some of the pieces together for me and make some of the continuous story more fluid for me to follow, allowing me to make better connections between people and events.  I’d love to share some thoughts with you as I go through this.  One of the passages of Scripture that really strikes me as powerful is the story of the life of Joseph.

Perhaps you’ve seen Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat?  Well, I’m not sure it was a “technicolor dreamcoat” (my bible says “richly ornamented robe”) – but at any rate, it was one of the factors that spurred on a series of events which seem at first to be tragic, but in the end serve a very specific purpose.

If you don’t know the story, Joseph had 11 brothers (from whom came the 12 tribes of Israel), but he was the favorite son of his father--as evidenced by the coat/robe.  This caused his brothers to hate Joseph.  Some of them plotted to kill him, but they eventually settled on selling him off to some passing merchants who in turn sold him as a slave in Egypt.  The brothers took Joseph’s “dreamcoat” covered in animal blood back to their father, Jacob, who from that point on believed Joseph to have been killed by a wild animal.  Meanwhile, in Egypt, Joseph’s life took on a cyclical pattern of prosperity and devastation.   

Prosperity: Joseph was originally bought by one of Pharaoh’s officials, Potiphar.  God was with Joseph and gave him success in everything he did – to the point that Potiphar put Joseph in charge of his entire household.

Devastation: Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, and when Joseph refused her, she made up a story that Joseph had tried to take advantage of her.  After this, Joseph was thrown in prison.

Prosperity: But even in prison, God was with Joseph.  The prison warden favored him and put him in charge of the prison.  Again, Joseph had success in all his work there.  God also helped him to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh’s cup bearer, who in turn Joseph had asked to speak to Pharaoh on his behalf to get him out of prison.

Devastation: The cup bearer forgot about Joseph, and two more years passed with Joseph remaining in prison.

Prosperity: One day, Pharaoh had dreams that nobody was able to interpret.  At this time, the cup bearer remembered Joseph and had him called up to interpret the dreams.  God revealed the meaning of the dreams through Joseph – and Joseph forewarned Pharaoh that there would be coming seven years of abundance in Egypt followed by seven years of famine.  Seeing that God had given Joseph wisdom, Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of his entire palace and the whole land of Egypt.

From slave to second in command, God was with Joseph throughout all that had happened.  What I love about Joseph is that he is able to see God working in his life, and even recognizes that even his abilities are really the power of God working through him.  When Pharaoh asked Joseph to interpret his dreams, this was Joseph’s response:

“I cannot do it, but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” (Genesis 41:16)

It came to pass that there was also a famine in the land of Canaan, where Joseph’s family lived.  Because Joseph warned Pharaoh of the impending famine, Egypt was the only country that was prepared and had food to sell to the surrounding areas.  So, Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to buy food from none other than Joseph himself!  Although they did not recognize him at first, Joseph recognized his brothers and eventually revealed his identity to them.  Upon learning his identity, Joseph’s brothers were terrified.  But, pay attention to Joseph’s words:

“And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.  So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God…” (Genesis 45:5-8)

God had a very specific purpose for allowing Joseph to be sold into slavery in Egypt.  Sometimes, the moment when God appears to be absent is the very moment he is doing some of his most powerful work (consider Christ on the cross).  By sending Joseph to Egypt, his entire family was able to be provided for during the famine.  Pharaoh even allowed Joseph’s family to come and live in some of the best land in Egypt.  Remember, Joseph and his brothers were the literal children of Israel, the chosen people of God, whom he called for a great purpose – and who, as he promised to Abraham, would become a great nation, through whom the whole world would be blessed (Genesis 28:14).

Later on, after their father died, Joseph’s brothers again became afraid that Joseph may try to seek revenge against them.  But Joseph reassured them again, saying:

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)

I find this to be a very powerful example of God’s ability to work all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28), and how he can use all things to accomplish his will.  Ephesians 1:11 says that God “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”  Even evil intentions and unjust or devastating life circumstances can be used by God for good.  “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21).”

Joseph remained faithful to God, and God remained faithful to him.  Although life was not always easy or fair for Joseph, he was able to recognize God’s work in his life, and in turn was able to extend grace and mercy to others, even to the very people who had wanted to harm him.  I think I have a lot to learn from Joseph and a long ways to go in practicing his level of faith, loyalty, love and mercy.  I hope that remembering Joseph’s story will help me to be more cognizant of God’s hand working in my own life, in ALL circumstances – not just “looking back”, but as life happens.

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Hi there! My name is Dana and I live in West Michigan with my husband, Tom and our dog Copernicus. I created this space as a place to share the things I learn along this journey I call life. I work in marketing and I'm a sort of Jane of All Trades, interested in all things nature, gardening, cooking, exploring and learning new things. This blog is a conglomeration of my interests, hobbies, life and life lessons. Thanks for stopping by!