You can learn a lot when you see things differently
If you want to understand events better, then you may find it helpful to turn this account over and look at it from the other side. We have been looking at Joseph’s story and concentrating on the ‘in between’ aspects of his life, especially the dreams.
But suppose you look at the same story from his brothers’ point of view: what made them hate him so much that they didn’t speak to him, eventually attacked him, sold him and then lied to their father about his fate – keeping the lie going for 13 years?
Absolutely nothing can justify their behaviour, but it can at least be Understood; the first factor was favouritism; Joseph and Benjamin were their father’s favourites and Joseph was the first favourite. It is very likely that this came about because they were the sons of his favourite wife, Rachel. Jacob had spent 14 years working to pay for the right to be her husband; such was his devotion to her. Not only had she been his favourite, but she had died giving birth to Benjamin; so Jacob now transferred all his love on to his two sons, and in particular, Joseph; Joseph was carrying the memory of Rachel and Jacob’s soul. The impact on Joseph seemed to be that he came to have a very egocentric view of life and seemed also to believe what his father kept placing on him, that is, some sort of demi-god status.
The very first thing we know about Joseph, is that he brings a bad report back from the workplace about his brothers, to Jacob; secondly we hear him telling his brothers and his father that they will bow down to him. So it is not only his status as favouritewhich irritates his brothers, but the picture we have is of a naïve, arrogant, over inflated, insensitive young man, who is, at the same time, spiritually attuned and powerful. It is an explosive and potentially dangerous mixture residing in his character, and is a combinatoin of his nature with his family history.
What follows are 14 years where he goes from superstar in his own eyes to nobody in everybody’s eyes; he goes from favourite to one of many; he goes from privilege to prison. This, of course, is what his brothers wanted for him: they wanted him to be destroyed.
Some people say that God has to break us to use us; this is nonsense – God isn’t in the business of breaking anyone; Joseph’s brothers want him broken, but that is not God’s strategy. What is happening here is the making of Joseph: these 13 years of ‘in between’ time make him into the best version of himself, as he learns to respond to and overcome adversity. So when you look at your story and find yourself in adversity, don’t be tempted to think that God is breaking you; other people may look at it like that, but that is not how he works. He is always making you into the best version of you. Like Joseph, you may face tough times, but ….your journeys may lead you to much better views.
Your current ‘in between’ time may be complex and the reasons for it many, but God is purposing things for good, because that’s his nature. Maybe it would be worth looking at your story from the other side.
1 Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.” 2 He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh. 3 Pharaoh asked the brothers, “What is your occupation?”“Your servants are shepherds,” they replied to Pharaoh, “just as our fathers were.” 4 They also said to him, “We have come to live here for a while, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.”5 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you, 6 and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Go hen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.” 7 Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed Pharaoh, 8 Pharaoh asked him, “How old are you?” 9 And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.” 10 Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence.11 So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed. 12 Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children.
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