The story of Joseph in the Bible has always fascinated me. He was the favorite of his father, Jacob, which surely angered his brothers. He was also a snitch and a braggart (Genesis 37: 1-11). Then Jacob had a beautiful coat made for Joseph. Joseph’s brothers hated him.
When Jacob sent Joseph to check on his brothers as they pastured the flocks, the brothers saw a golden opportunity. At first they wanted to kill him, but Reuben talked them into just throwing him into a cistern and letting him die. Later, when they saw a band of Ishmaelite traders, the brothers decided to sell Joseph to them as a slave. The Ishmaelite traders then sold Joseph to Potiphar in Egypt.
Joseph worked hard for Potiphar and earned his master’s trust. Joseph was put in charge of all Potiphar owned. However, Potiphar’s wife had an eye for Joseph and put pressure on him to sleep with her. Joseph constantly refused. One day, Potiphar’s wife was left holding Joseph’s robe when Joseph made his escape. She screamed and convinced Potiphar that Joseph had tried to rape her. Potiphar threw Joseph in prison. Even in prison, God was with Joseph. Joseph earned the trust of the prison warden, and was put in charge of the prison.
He finally came to the notice of Pharaoh when he interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams. Joseph then became governor over all of Egypt. Only Pharaoh himself had more power than Joseph. Joseph’s leadership preserved the land of Egypt from a severe 7-year famine.
Soon his brothers came to Egypt seeking grain because the famine had also affected them, too. They did not recognize Joseph though he recognized them. On their second trip to Egypt, Joseph revealed himself to them. They were stunned and probably a little scared.
“But don’t be upset and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.” Genesis 45: 5 (NLT)
It amazes me that Joseph could keep his trust in God after all of these things had happened to him. He hadn’t deserved to be sold into slavery by his brothers. He certainly hadn’t deserved to be thrown into prison. He had done nothing wrong. He could have become bitter and resentful. But in each case, he worked hard and proved to be trustworthy. Joseph showed great strength of character. He didn’t know the future but he trusted in the One who did know.
We have many struggles in life. The important thing to keep in mind is to use our struggles as stepping stones instead of as stumbling blocks. If Joseph can do it, we can, too.