Life happens! And quite often, it doesn’t happen according to our expectations. What do we do when we meet the unexpected? Let’s take a look at the life of Joseph to see what he did in his story in almost all of Genesis 37-50:
Joseph was one of Jacob’s younger sons. When he was seventeen, he was shepherding the flock with his older brothers and brought back to his father a bad report about some of his brothers. Jacob loved Joseph more than all his children and made him a multicolored tunic. His brothers could see their father’s favor for Joseph and they hated him. Now Joseph dreamed two dreams in which he was elevated above his brothers, and he told them about his dreams. His brothers were envious and jealous of Joseph. Even his father rebuked him and expressed a lack of understanding at what Joseph shared. Considering the dreams, life took a very unexpected turn for Joseph.
- His father sent him to check on his brothers; they saw him coming and plotted to kill him.
- One of his brothers objected so they threw him into a pit which had no water in it.
- The brothers decided that it would not be beneficial to them to kill Joseph. They sold him to a caravan of Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver.
- The Ishmaelites sold Joseph to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and the captain of the royal guard.
- The Lord was with Joseph and caused him to prosper and gain favor with Potiphar so that he put everything he owned in Joseph’s charge.
- Potiphar’s wife was attracted to Joseph, but he would not return her affection. She falsely accused him of attacking her.
- Potiphar was angry at Joseph because of his wife’s allegations. Joseph was confined in prison.
- The Lord was with Joseph and gave him favor in the sight of the prison warden. Joseph was put in charge of all the warden’s responsibilities, and God made him to prosper.
- The cupbearer and chief baker of Pharaoh greatly displeased their master and he put them in the same prison with Joseph.
- Joseph was put in charge of them.
- Sometime later they both had dreams on the same night but were distraught because they didn’t understand the meaning of the dreams. Joseph saw that they were sad and depressed and, when he learned of their situation, told them that God could interpret dreams and asked them to tell him their dreams.
- According to the dreams, they were to be released from prison in three days. One was to be restored to his position, and the other was to be hanged. And it happened just so.
- Joseph asked the cupbearer to speak to Pharaoh on his behalf, but he forgot Joseph.
- Two years later Pharaoh had a dream he didn’t understand. The cupbearer then remembered Joseph and his ability to interpret dreams.
- Pharaoh called for Joseph to come to him. Joseph told him that God would give Pharaoh a favorable answer through him. A famine was coming after a time of abundance and Pharaoh must take action to prepare for the famine. He saw Joseph as a man possessing the divine spirit of God and being clear-headed and wise. He appointed Joseph to be in charge over Egypt.
- His brothers came to Egypt to get food and eventually moved their families and their father to Egypt.
In reading through these chapters in Genesis, I see nothing of Joseph’s feelings about what happened to him. However we do get some insight into his perspective on his life.
- Before the famine and after Joseph was appointed to his position, he married and had two sons born to him. He named the first, Manasseh, because he said, “God has made me forget all my trouble and hardship and all [the sorrow of the loss of] my father’s household. (Gen. 41:51) He named his second son Ephraim, for “God has caused me to be fruitful and very successful in the land of my suffering.” (Gen. 41:52)
- Many years later, after Jacob’s death, his brothers were fearful that Joseph would now pay them back for all the wrong they had done to him. They came to him, asking forgiveness, and bowed down to him, acknowledging that they were his servants. Joseph’s response, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? [vengeance is His, not mine]. As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present outcome, that many people would be kept alive[as they are this day]. So now, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and support you and your little ones.” So he comforted them [giving them encouragement and hope] and spoke [with kindness] to their hearts. (Gen 50:21)
- Joseph was confident in his relationship with God, acknowledged him in all that he did.
How do we respond when things happen that we don’t expect?
- We do have the Holy Spirit with us.
- Jesus has told us that we can have perfect peace in Him. He says, “In the world you have tribulations and distress and suffering but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
- We have assurance from God that He will provide for us, “Let your character [your moral essence, your inner nature] fe free from the love of money [shun greed – be financially ethical], being content with what you have’ for he has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” (Hebrews 13:5)
We do meet the unexpected. We, too, have a great God.