When I was very young, the riveting story of Joseph was the first one, I think, that made the Bible a book I “couldn’t put down”.
Joseph was a guy, in spite of his proud demeanor as a child, who really held on to his faith in God in spite of things continuously going from bad to worse. He was hated and mistreated by his own brothers, who threw him in a pit and then sold him into slavery. He was lied about by Potiphar’s wife (how humiliating to have people thinking you raped someone when you didn’t!) and unjustly imprisoned. Then when he hoped for a good word from someone he’d helped, he was forgotten!
Yet, God’s grace was evident:
- he was with Joseph and “gave him success in whatever he did”. (Gen. 39:23)
- he gave Joseph the gift of interpreting dreams; and Joseph used this gift to help others, and gave the credit to God. (Gen. 41:16)
- Eventually, God elevated Joseph to the highest role in Egypt.
[That would seem like a happy, complete ending for Joseph, but remember that he was still in Egypt… We know his homeland was still important to him: he asked his brothers to take his bones back there when they would finally return. We will never really see the complete happy ending until we see Jesus again, in heaven or when he returns.]
This is a story where you can really see how “things worked together for good”, that God had a purpose in all this trouble that Joseph had. Because Jacob and the whole fam-damily was brought to Egypt to survive the famine–and of course the reason anyone could survive the famine was because of Joseph’s warning dream, and wisdom in preparing for it.
Which shows that God’s ultimate purpose is to save many lives. When you’re going through tough times, remember that God wants to save your life (by making you more like Jesus), and then use you to save many others.
“That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (Romans 8:28)