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)
Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery which led him to Egypt and his unjust incarceration. But God orchestrated these events to eventually put Joseph in a position of power second only to Pharaoh.
When his brothers needed Joseph to save their lives, they understandably feared that Joseph would choose to retaliate. But Joseph did the unexpected. He forgave them and claimed that “God intended” all his hardship “for good.”
Of course, it’s unlikely that Joseph ever described his circumstances as a slave and prisoner as “good.” But looking back over the course of many years, he could see how God used his suffering for a greater redemptive purpose.
One day, you and I will be able to do the same, if not on this side of eternity, then the other. That truth doesn’t make the pain we feel...
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me….I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 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….But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. (Genesis 45:4-5, 7)
After Joseph was released from prison, he was appointed by Pharaoh to lead Egypt through a seven-year famine. Now, Joseph is one of the highest ranking government officials in Egypt, and through God’s power, an exceptionally good one.
For seven years, Joseph organized efforts to store up Egypt’s agricultural abundance. And when the famine hit, Egypt was so well prepared that “all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere” (Genesis 41:57). As today’s passage reveals, “all the world”...
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” (Genesis 41:15-16)
Joseph was in prison unjustly. So when the guards told him that the Pharaoh needed his skills, Joseph must have sensed some hope that maybe, just maybe, his talents as a dream interpreter could earn him a literal get out of jail free card.
With that context, we almost expect Joseph to trumpet his own abilities to Pharaoh. But when Pharaoh gives him that opportunity, Joseph deflects the glory that could have so easily been his.
What remarkable humility! Even though he was in the fight of his life where the temptation to glorify himself through his work must have been strong, Joseph recognized that it is God, not us, who produces results through our work. And thus, he alone deserves the...
Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him (Genesis 39:20-21a)
Joseph, the treasured son of Jacob, was sold into slavery by his brothers and eventually wound up in Egypt working for Potiphar, an Egyptian official. And right from the start, Joseph proves to be exceptionally good at his job. Genesis 39:2-3 tells us that “The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered...the Lord gave him success in everything he did.”
Seeing this, “Potiphar put [Joseph] in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned” (Genesis 39:4). But after refusing to go to bed with Potiphar’s wife, Joseph is wrongly accused of sexual harassment and thrown in prison.
In sum, Joseph goes from a state of helplessness as a slave, to a position of power in the palace, back to a place of great weakness as a prisoner. And...
Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more…His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. (Genesis 37:5, 8)
God has given you a dream for your work.
Maybe it’s doubling your business so that you can provide more jobs that lead to human flourishing. Maybe it’s writing a book to help others learn from your mistakes. Maybe God has given you a dream for an entirely different career than the one you hold today.
If you have breath in your lungs, I’m confident that God has given you a dream for your work.
But I’m also confident that there are many moments when you feel a disconnect between your dream and your present reality—a gap between what God has placed in your heart and what he has placed in your hands.
Joseph understood the pain of staring into that gap...