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Joseph - When We Suffer Unfairly

If you're like most of humanity you've probably wondered at some point why your life is the way it is. Why you've suffered for things that really were no fault of your own. Why terrible things have happened to you and were inflicted on you that you had no choice in, no control over, couldn't stop and weren't consequences for bad choices you made. We can't pick our families, we can't choose where we're born or what kind of environment we grow up in.

Usually it's pretty baffling to us. Sometimes we're hit from way out of left field. Sometimes we become accustomed to bad situations that we never expect anything good to happen. And still sometimes things are going great and we make all kinds of plans, looking forward to a bright future when suddenly everything goes right down the tubes for no apparent reason.

The Bible says "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." Romans 15:4

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;" 2 Timothy 3:16

Those Scriptures are directing us to look at the people of the past and learn from them. No matter how "great" we see people such as Moses, David, Joshua, Abraham etc, they were really just imperfect people like us. There was nothing special about them that made God choose them. They had many of the same problems we have and suffered in many of the same ways we do. There's reasons why God wanted to show us people like the above with warts and all.

1.To show us that there is no such thing as great people of God, only a great God.
2.To reveal how gracious and merciful He is.
3.To show us He can use anyone.
4.To give us examples for us to learn from. Examples we can relate to.

With that in mind let's take a look at one person who takes center stage from Genesis chapters 37-50. Joseph was the 11th son born to Jacob and Zilpah. He was 17 years old when his 10 brothers tried to kill him, but then opted to sell him into slavery instead. Joseph was a favorite of Jacob because he was born to him in his old age (Genesis 37:2) so there were a lot of years between him and the rest of his brothers except for the youngest, Benjamin.

Joseph was Jacob's informer. While out tending sheep with his brothers, he would bring reports to Jacob about what they were up to. His brothers were already aware that Jacob loved Joseph more so there was a big jealousy issue. Jacob had even made Joseph an ornate robe to wear which fueled the jealousy. Genesis 37: 4 says they hated Joseph and couldn't even say anything nice to him.There was nothing but hostility toward their brother, so much so, they couldn't even pretend to be cordial.

Outside of being a tattle tale, which would just be annoying, there was no reason for his 10 brothers to hate him and want him dead. They were much older than Joseph with families of their own. Compared to them he was a kid, but they took the jealousy, fueled it among themselves into hate and put it in Joseph's lap.

When Joseph went to see his brothers, who were grazing Jacob's flocks in Dothan, they saw him coming in the distance and instantly began plotting to kill him. Except for Reuben the oldest. He was all for throwing him in a cistern, giving him a scare and maybe roughing him up a little (Genesis 37:21). He didn't like Joseph anymore than they did, but he had a little bit more sense about murdering someone.

When Joseph reached them, they stripped him of the special coat Jacob made, roughed him up and threw him in an empty water cistern. Later they sold him to traveling Midianite merchants who later sold Joseph to Potiphar in Egypt as a slave. They then took his ripped ornate robe, slaughtered a goat, put blood on it then took it back to Jacob so he'd think his favorite son had been killed by a wild animal. Problem solved! And they didn't have to kill anyone to accomplish it.

That was pretty bad, but that's not the worst of what Joseph endured. He spent many years as Potiphar's slave in Egypt through no fault of his own and when things were going good for him (about as good as it could get for a slave) he was then thrown into prison when Potiphar's wife accused him of trying to rape her. What possibly saved him from death was Potiphar knew Joseph's integrity and liked him, but he had to do something. Joseph was still just a slave and prison was the only option. He was beaten severely in prison and lived there in conditions we wouldn't even let a dog live in. All this because his brothers were jealous of Jacob's attention on Joseph.

But, by God's grace, help and design, Joseph proved to be intelligent, responsible, full of integrity and trustworthy. Things slowly began to turn around for Joseph and he caught the attention of Pharaoh while in prison. He was given the meaning of Pharaoh's disturbing dreams by God and he interpreted them correctly about a coming famine that God was sending. So Joseph advised Pharaoh to appoint discerning and wise men as commissioners over Egypt to plan and oversee the storing of extra grain from the crops for 7 years because in the 8th year a severe famine would strike. And it happened just as Joseph said. They not only had plenty of food to survive on, but they were also able to sell grain to starving outsiders.

So impressed was Pharaoh, who fully recognized God was with Joseph, he gave that job to Joseph himself. The way Pharaoh saw it was, if God was willing to make things like this known to Joseph then obviously He could further lead the slave with wisdom to handle the preparations to save Egypt. Joseph was 30 years old when he was put over the land. He became the 2nd most powerful man there in Egypt under Pharaoh. That fast it all changed for him because of God.

In the end Joseph's brothers came to Egypt to buy grain to keep from starving and he was reunited with them. He forgave them for what they had done to him because Joseph recognized that though their actions were absolutely horrific, he told them "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 didn't deserve what had happened to him. He had no control over the abuse he suffered. He did nothing to cause it. It was totally thrust on him, but God used the evil actions and sin of his brothers and others to save many lives through the victim. That doesn't mean everyone who suffers will one day end up like Joseph, but it does mean God can and will turn it all around and use it for the good of not just us, but our families, friends and others. Nothing is ever in vain. Nothing is meaningless and "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

Things may have been bad for you or may still be. Like Joseph you may have many scars from a rough life, but it's not over. If you belong to's just not over. The same God that was "with Joseph" (Genesis 39:2) is also with you. Before any harvest to come later the ground must first be broken. Suffering is a refiner. Suffering is a fire that burns away dross. No one can ascend without the climb. We are to be patient, endure with God's help, remain faithful to God in spite of all things thrown at us and fear God above all situations and people. But not of our own, on our own. He's gives us the ability and strength to do it. It's not over...
Disclaimer: I do not condone the teaching of men by women nor am I trying to exercise authority over men by using this blog as a method of teaching men. All posts are for the edification of women. For more on what I believe concerning this issue please see: Women - No Dominion Over Men
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