The little kids’ class at church has been learning about Joseph lately (Genesis 37 and 39-45). Joseph had a pretty complicated life, and for the better part of it I don’t think he knew why.
Joseph was his father’s favorite son, causing jealousy among his older brothers (12 sons in total!). While his older brothers watched the family sheep, it seems Joseph didn’t have good things to report to their father (Genesis 37:2). His father gave him a special coat, further signifying Joseph’s status as the favorite son. Joseph had dreams of how he would rule over his brothers, causing more anger among them. His older brothers hated him so much that one day they just up and threw him into a pit, having already talked about killing him. Happening to see some Ishmaelites traveling by, they sold Joseph into slavery instead, fully expecting to never see him again. Then they lied to their father, saying they found Joseph’s bloodied coat on the way home and that he must be dead.
While in Egypt, the Bible tells us God was with Joseph (Genesis 39:2). Joseph became the best slave he could be. He gave his best and did what was right. He did so well that God’s blessing was apparent to Joseph’s pagan master. Joseph’s master trusted him and even put him in charge of his household, not worrying about anything because Joseph was so faithful.
But then everything got turned over when the master’s wife tried to get Joseph to have sex with her. Joseph refused, knowing and saying that it was a sin. She was very persistent and Joseph seems to have tried avoiding her presence as much as possible (Genesis 39:10). But one day she sort of ambushed him, at a time when there was no one else in the house. She caught him by the garment and Joseph was so serious about fleeing that he just wiggled out of his clothing and left it. So his master’s wife decided that if she couldn’t have her way, she’d get Joseph into trouble. Because there had been no one else in the house and because his clothes were left behind, she had an easy time making the case that Joseph had assaulted her. So Joseph was thrown in to jail.
But we see that even in jail God was with Joseph (Genesis 39:21), and Joseph was apparently the best prisoner he could be. The prison keeper even put Joseph in charge of things! (Genesis 39:22-23)
One day two of the Pharaoh’s important servants were thrown into jail, the butler and the baker. They each had dreams and needed someone to interpret them. Through God’s power, Joseph could interpret dreams and he offered to do so. His interpretations came to pass: the butler got to go back to work and the baker was executed. Joseph asked the butler to put in a good word for him to Pharaoh, because who wants to stay in prison? Joseph mentioned he’d been wrongfully sold away from his home and even wrongfully imprisoned. Though he didn’t know why all this had happened, it is apparent that Joseph still trusted God could get him out of it when it was time.
Now most of us have heard Joseph’s story so we know about God’s plan and how things turned around. But Joseph didn’t know the plan until years and years later. While he was in the middle of it, he didn’t know what God’s plan was. He just trusted that God had one and that things would be okay. In Genesis 45:5-8, we see Joseph acknowledging that plan and praising God. Even though Joseph went through so many wrongful things, God had developed him into a good man that could fulfill the leadership role that God had in mind.
Now back to how things turned around. Pharaoh had a dream that needed interpreting and the butler remembered meeting a man in prison who could interpret it. God gave Joseph the interpretation of the dreams, which meant there would be seven years of plenty and seven years of famine so bad you wouldn’t be able to tell there had been years of plenty. Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of storing food during those years of plenty, making Joseph second in command of all Egypt. This in turn made sure there was food for Joseph’s family back home, years later when they were going through famine and had to come to Egypt for food.
Like Joseph’s life, sometimes our lives might not make sense. We’ll often have no clue as to why things are happening to us. But rest assured that God knows what’s going on, and He can use it to develop you into exactly who you’re supposed to be. He’ll get you exactly where you’re supposed to be, and exactly when you’re supposed to be there. Trust God, the plan is good.