One of the stories I absolutely love is that of Joseph in Genesis. There are so many qualities I love about him: his steadfastness during temptation, his calmness under trials, his patience in jail, his trust in God's plans and will for his life, and especially his loving, forgiving heart.
We all have heard his story before - Joseph's brothers grew angry with him and planned on killing him, but instead sold him into slavery. At first Joseph was in great favor with his master, and he became his personal attendant, but shortly after this, his master's wife tried to seduce him. Joseph was a man of integrity who would not give in and remained steadfast in the midst of temptation. Because he would sleep with her, she told her husband that Joseph had tried to rape her. His master was so angered that he threw Joseph in jail. Although the Bible says that he was favored in jail and he became the head of prisoners, he was still in prison, which I'm sure was a very lonely, unpleasant place to be. From what I gather from the reading, he was there for at least two years.
While he was in prison, interpreted the baker and royal cup bearer's dreams accurately, and once word got out, he was eventually called out of prison to interpret the Pharaoh's dreams. When Joseph told the Pharaoh that his dreams meant he would have seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine, Pharaoh was greatly impressed by Joseph's wise discernment, and he appointed him to lead all of Egypt.
Joseph's brothers come to Egypt to ask for food rations, not realizing that Joseph was their long lost brother. I won't go into all of the details, but once Joseph discovered that their hearts had changed, he revealed himself to them with the most loving attitude:
" 'Come closer to me,' he told his brothers. When they had done so, he said: 'I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt. But now do not be distressed, and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here. It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you. For two years now the famine has been in the land, and for five more years tillage will yield no harvest.
God, therefore, sent me on ahead of you to ensure for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives in an extraordinary deliverance. So it was not really you but God who had me come here; and he has made of me a father to Pharaoh, lord of all his household, and ruler of all Egypt.' "
- Genesis 45:4-8
It is so amazing to read about Jacob's attitude. He had over two years in prison where he could have done nothing but harbor resentment against his brothers for selling him to slavery. However, after all he went though, he held no grudges against them, and he acted with gracious forgiveness and love towards them. I could feel the love and joy that must of been in that room when I read how the brothers embraced and how "Joseph then kissed all his brothers, crying over each of them" (Genesis 45:15). He was unbelievably generous, giving his brothers the best land in Egypt, animals, food, and money. He held absolutely nothing back in his forgiveness.
Not only that, but Joseph was able to see God's will for his life and his brother's lives in the midst of all that happened. He was able to look in hindsight at the terrible things that had occurred to realize that God only had his good and his brother's good in mind when he was suffering.
These are the lessons I took from Joseph's story:
- Be patient and calm in the midst of hardship.
- Remember that God has our ultimate good in mind.
- Show unrelenting, loving forgiveness to those who have hurt us.
I have finished with Genesis and am going to start reading Job because it's the supplemental book for Genesis 12-50. Hopefully, I'll be writing on that book soon!