Joseph was a special child. His birth was God’s answer to Rachel’s desperation over her barrenness. Born to Jacob’s sweetheart wife, Joseph naturally was his father’s favorite son. As a young lad Joseph faced the first tragedy when he lost his mother. (Genesis 35:19)However Jacob made up for the loss by lavishing his love on Joseph to such an extent that his other sons fumed with envy to see Joseph’s preferential treatment. To his brothers, Joseph was nothing more than a big mouth and a fanciful dreamer who always got them into trouble. In all probability his brothers dreaded the possibility of the family blessing and fortune to be inherited by Jacob’s darling son, Joseph.
Jacob made Joseph’s position even more enviable by gifting him an elegant tunic of many colors. With all this cozy upbringing, we expect to find Joseph a spoilt brat, enjoying his father’s pampering and the luxuries of his affluent home. Even so, Joseph’s life was characterized by one trait that certainly distinguished him from all of Jacob’s children. Joseph learnt as a child to commit his life to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Joseph’s virtues stemmed out of His walk with God, no doubt learnt from his parents.
It is impossible to suppose that Joseph’s brothers made no display of their hatred for their younger brother. Even though Joseph knew how he fared with his brothers, he made no protest to his father’s command to visit his brothers who were away with the family flock. This was because with Joseph, obedience was second nature and honoring his father was habitual.
While Joseph followed after his brothers in goodwill, little did he suspect that wicked schemes brewed in their minds. Abandoned to the mercy of his heartless brothers, Joseph pleaded to be spared. His desperate cry fell on deaf ears. (Genesis 42:21)There is no doubt that Joseph felt stung by his own brother’s hatred and betrayal. Stripped of his colorful tunic and his position as ‘pet son’ and ‘heir apparent’ of one of the richest men of the times, Joseph was reduced to a trading commodity.
Tables turned on Joseph’s fortune. All the privileges of his ancestral home were snatched away. His companions were strangers and his prospects of getting back home, to his father’s embrace were quashed forever. The pain and agony that young Joseph suffered was massive. He was lonely, insecure and devastated.
The Genesis account makes no mention of all that Joseph went through. But we do see that this grueling experience did not steal away the one thing that Joseph was accustomed to enjoying; the presence of God. Later passages do reveal Joseph’s desperation to get out of the unjust position he was forced into. However, no passage shows Joseph as an unhappy individual, mourning his state or grumbling about his hard hearted brothers. There are no records of Joseph’s laments because there were none. Even in his gloomy hours, Joseph was never far from God’s love. He might have missed his father, his home and familiar surroundings. But Joseph never lost God’s presence. He allowed the fear of God to dominate his bleak life. He did not see bright prospects ahead and yet he continued to live sincerely, upholding high standards of integrity and working whole heartedly even though the tasks assigned to him were menial.
The youth Joseph’s response to unjust suffering comes as a challenge and an encouragement. When you see justice perverted in your life, when you are let down by family and friends, how do you respond? Do you find yourself abandoned by God? Do you grieve and mourn in self pity? Do you swear with vengeance, cooking up schemes to get back at those who offend you?
Joseph’s life stands out as an example for believers to emulate. No one knows when suffering strikes or what form it takes. In Joseph’s case, his unsuspecting and innocent visit to his brothers turned out to be fatal. No one knows who will be the next victim of misery. Suffering is universal and nobody is exempt from its vicious grasp. Christians and Non Christians suffer alike. However those who hang their hopes on the God of Joseph will in no way miss out on the peace and comfort of God and His deliverance from bitter trials.
You can pick up these books from the Amazon Store for more on the life of Joseph.
Buy 'Joseph:Beyond the Coat of Many Colors' by Mary Englund Murphy from Amazon
Buy 'Great Lives Series: Joseph: A Man of Integrity and Forgiveness (Great Lives from God's Word)' by Charles Swindoll from Amazon