Have you ever gone through something that was really hard?
Perhaps you questioned God in that moment, and wondered how something like that could happen.
But sometimes– oftentimes– God’s plans are bigger than we can see and comprehend. While we can’t always see it, whatever is happening now can come to good later.
This is what happened with Joseph.
The Favorite Son
In the history of the nation of Israel described in Genesis, Abraham is the father of Isaac, and Isaac is the father of Esau and Jacob. God renames Jacob to ‘Israel’, and out of his family come the tribes of the nation of Israel.
Israel has 12 sons, and Joseph is one of his younger ones. Joseph is one of the only sons of Rachel, Israel’s second wife, and he singles Joseph out as his favorite. He even gives him a coat of many colors to show his favor.
On top of this, Joseph has dreams about his brothers bowing down to him, and he tells his family this.
Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.Genesis 37:5-8
As can be seen in these verses, his brothers aren’t very happy with Joseph being the favorite and his dreams of them bowing down to him. One day, Israel sends Joseph out to find his brothers in the field, and while he is coming toward them, his brothers plot to kill him.
Reuben, the firstborn, manages to convince them not to kill him. Instead, they sell Joseph to slavers and take his coat of many colors. Using the coat, they convince Israel that Joseph was torn apart by an animal, and Israel grieves his son, thinking he is dead.
Joseph ends up being sold in Egypt, where he serves in the house of an Egyptian officer. However, when the officer’s wife accuses Joseph of trying to sleep with her, he is thrown into prison.
While in prison, he interprets the dreams of a baker and cupbearer, and exactly what he predicts (with God’s help) comes to pass. After this, the Pharaoh of Egypt has two dreams that nobody can explain to him, and the cupbearer recommends Joseph to interpret them.
When Joseph interprets the dream as a coming famine, Pharaoh appoints him as the governor of Egypt in order to handle preparation for it.
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.Genesis 41:39-40
After so many years of hardship and unknowns, Joseph is made to be in one of the highest places in Egypt.
When the famine begins, Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt for food. Joseph recognizes them, but they don’t recognize him. He puts them through various tests of their honesty until he finally reveals himself to them.
And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.Genesis 45:3-5
Joseph then, with the Pharaoh’s permission, has his brothers bring his father and the rest of the family to Egypt. Israel is overjoyed to see his son again, and they live in Egypt for several years. Israel dies there, and after his death, Joseph’s brothers are concerned that Joseph might pay them back for what they had done to him all those years ago since their father is gone. Thus, his brothers tell him that his father asked him to forgive them. This is Joseph’s reaction:
But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.Genesis 50:19-21
Joseph didn’t hold a grudge against his brothers for what they had done, rather forgave them by looking at the bigger picture. God had used his difficult position to help all of Egypt during famine, and to provide for his own family when they were going hungry. Indeed, while Joseph’s brothers meant it for evil, God had made it into good.
The point of me telling you this story is to show you that God can and does use hardship and evil for good. Joseph was hated, enslaved, wrongly accused, and imprisoned, yet God used him to preserve Egypt and Joseph’s family during famine.
And while the hardships you might have been through (or are going through) are likely different from the ones Joseph went through, God is with you in that too.
Many years after Joseph’s life, a man comes from the line of his brother, Judah. At this time, the nation of Israel has asked for a king. Their first king, Saul, has made mistakes and not followed God like he should have, so God chooses a man to replace him. This man’s name is David.
David, though he is anointed king, faces many trials during his life, often involved in being chased by his enemies such as Saul. During these trying times, he writes many psalms and songs to God, both of grief and sorrow as well as joy and praise. One Psalm he wrote is Psalm 9. In it, David writes praises and thanks to God for delivering him from his enemies.
The main verses I want to point out are verses 9-10:
The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed,Psalm 9:9-10
a stronghold in times of trouble.
And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
These verses are encouraging because David, the man who had so much reason to question God and what was happening to him (and he did at times), is praising Him in thanks for still being there, for being a “stronghold in times of trouble.”
God is still there, friend. You might not always see it, but He is still there, and He has a plan for you. It’s normal to have fears and doubts– it’s only human– but know that ultimately, God’s got you, and that you can trust in Him.
I hope today’s article has helped you in some way. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! And if you want to get my bi-weekly newsletter, please consider subscribing to my email list (the form can be found at the bottom of this post).
Have a blessed rest of your day,