For many people outside the Christian world the Old Testament characters are a mystery. In our increasingly secularised society the names of people like Job, Isaac, Saul and Samuel are unknown. However, most in the west know of Joseph, especially since Andrew Lloyd Weber wrote his musical about the ‘amazing technicolour dream coat’!
I wonder how many of us also know Joseph as a man of faith in the sovereignty of God. I was re-reading his story recently, and was struck by the number of times Joseph refers to God’s plan and purpose in his life. At the start of the Egypt events the Scripture tell us that ‘The Lord was with Joseph’ (Genesis 39:2), and during the times when he had to interpret various dreams, Joseph affirmed his confidence in God, whom he knew would give him the interpretation. ‘I cannot do it’ Joseph replied to Pharaoh ‘but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires’ (Genesis 41:16). When Joseph’s brothers came to him and he finally revealed his identity he comforted them in their fears of retribution for their earlier actions against him by saying ‘It was not you who sent me here but God’ (Genesis 45:8). Throughout the story we see Joseph as a man of total faith in the sovereign God he worshipped.
How often we get involved with things that lead us into difficulties, yet maybe we don’t so often recognise that God may have had a hand in these events for a greater good than we can see at the time. It’s easy to attribute blame, maybe to ourselves and usually to others for the things that go wrong for us. And the ‘accidents’ of life, and the occurrences that affect us, which appear to have no reason, can distract us from seeing how God is involved in every part of our lives. (I’m still trying to work out how my heart attack is part of God’s plan for me!)
We’re not expected to come up with answers or solutions, or even explanations. Joseph was able to see at the end of the process how his hard times were for the good of others (Genesis 45:5). All through the difficulties he gave God the honour and declared the Lord as sovereign, even though he didn’t appear to understand the plan at the time.
Maybe when ‘stuff happens’ we should simply say “God has a plan. I don’t understand it yet. But I’m going to trust that He’s still the sovereign Lord in my life’. It may not satisfy our logic thinking, but it’s the way to growing in faith.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, when we’re faced with the hard times of life to know that You still have a plan and a purpose which involves our situation. We trust that You know the bigger picture, and we want to be obedient and faithful, even when it’s tough going. Amen.
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