One of my favorite Bible characters is Joseph (Genesis 37-50). Briefly, Jacob (Joseph’s father) grows up, tricks his twin brother Esau into giving away his blessing, and then flees town to live with his uncle, Laban. Jacob marries, has children, and lives with Laban for 20 years before God calls him back to Canaan.
When Jacob returns to the land of Abraham and Isaac, his name is changed to Israel (35:9–12). Israel has 12 sons, and young Joseph is his favorite because he is the son of Israel’s true love, Rachel. Joseph’s brothers are jealous of him. They sell him into slavery and he becomes a prisoner in Egypt. His God-given ability to interpret dreams becomes valuable to the Pharaoh, so Joseph is released from prison and eventually becomes second in command of Egypt.
During the time Joseph is in charge, he warns Pharaoh that a terrible famine is coming, so they stockpile food for years. Joseph correctly predicts that the famine reaches Canaan and his brothers (who sold him into slavery) come to Egypt to buy food. The brothers reconcile, and Joseph provides for all of Israel’s children to move to Egypt until the famine is over.
Joseph suffered many hurts and hardships from the time he was 17 years old. His brothers sold him into slavery; he was wrongly accused by Potiphar’s wife and forgotten in prison by someone he helped until he was needed to interpret a dream. Over the course of those almost 14 years of tests and trials, some of us would have given up, become bitter, angry, disappointed and unforgiving. During the reconciliation with his brothers, one of Joseph’s most memorable quotes is, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”
Isn’t that often the case in our lives? The ‘love of our life’ leaves, we are passed over for that ‘dream’ job, the doctor’s diagnosis is heart-breaking, we are hurt by the actions of our siblings or others, and we can’t imagine why God is punishing us. However, when we survive, persevere or overcome that pain, hurt or disappointment, we come to understand that God meant it for our good. We see that the test didn’t take us out; that we are wiser, stronger, closer to God, or that He has something better for us. And, we have a testimony because we passed the test!
Peace and power
© Dr. Melvin O. Marriner,