The fact that Joseph’s story—the story of being sold into slavery by his own family, finding healing, and coming into power to ultimately save his people—became a hit Broadway musical is perhaps the happiest ending to a story with an already improbable happy ending. But not everything in life ends in a neat, tidy bow.
Joseph used the power he gained in Egypt to save his family, but in the process he also consolidated power for Pharaoh. This man who was himself once enslaved contributes to a system that enslaves uses enslaved labor to enrich the powerful.
The story makes me consider how my sense of justice sometimes becomes too narrow, too limited to the people and places I hold nearest and dearest.
Joseph believes his suffering was not in vain, and there is something for us to wrestle with in that proclamation. What if it is not true that everything happens for a reason? What if there is not a silver lining to every act of injustice and harm? Does everything happen for a reason? Or at the very least, does everything happen for a reason that we can intentionally act on?
Joseph’s open arms and warmth to his family should inspire us all. The forgiveness and healing that happened come from a place my time in therapy and spiritual direction still cannot access. But I cannot help but wonder how different things could have turned out had that love and care extended to the Israelites and Canaanites.
How can our love and influence be forces for good in our immediate family and in our communities?
Joseph had experienced betrayal by his brothers and then had been sold into slavery. At the time, he no doubt felt abandoned by God. However, after God raises up Joseph in Egypt, Joseph is able to provide for his family in a time of drought. Although others have acted with evil intentions, God uses those actions for good. The psalmist offers a similar encouragement. We struggle in the real challenges that face us, but we believe in a God who can carry us through them. In First Corinthians, Paul explains that God carries us even through death to resurrection glory on the other side. Jesus teaches us to respond to evil with mercy. Because we believe in a God who will ultimately bring justice, we do not need to serve as judge and executioner.
Read Genesis 45:3-11, 15. How would considering your children’s children to seven generations change the way you make decisions?
Read Psalm 37:1-11, 39-40. What is your relationship to the land where you live now and the land where you lived as you grew up?
Read 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50. How do you live out the characteristics of God’s imperishable realm?
Read Luke 6:27-38. How do you respond to Jesus’ call to love your enemies? How does your community of faith follow this gospel requirement?
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