When bad things happen to us, we cry out with the age-old question, “Why me, Lord?” Perhaps we’ve served God well and faithfully and haven’t deviated from Him. It could even be said that we walked in His righteousness; we’ve lived and been upright in the Name of Christ. Then the roof caves in over our head, the floor falls out from beneath us, the walls collapse upon the structure of our life. It makes no sense, and the doubts creep in. Wasn’t this stuff supposed to happen to people who hate God? How in the world could God let these things happen to me when I’ve obeyed Him and even produced much good fruit in His Name?
Then we come to the story of Joseph. It says in Genesis 39:3 that:
“His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands.”
Joseph had been sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. In Egypt he prospered, as did those around him. God blessed him during this time. No doubt, Joseph figured he had it made despite the awful circumstances that had brought him here. In fact Genesis 39:5 telles us:
“From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field.”
But then, Joseph faced a dilemma. His master’s wife wanted to seduce him. Instead of giving into the temptation, he refused the lure of the flesh and rebuffed her. He wouldn’t give into lust because he knew it wasn’t simply an offense against the husband, it was wickedness and sin against God (Genesis 39:9).
The woman accuses him anyway and he winds up in prison. From great blessing to the lowliest of places; all because he honored God. How could this be? However, once more, he finds favor with those around him. In Genesis 39:21 we see:
“But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.”
And in Genesis 39:23:
“Whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.”
But, he was still in prison.
What happens next shows how everything was orchestrated by God. The king’s servants displease him, and they are tossed into prison with Joseph. God graciously enables Joseph to interpret their dreams. The chief baker is executed while the chief cupbearer is restored to his previous position, just as Joseph said.
Yet, once more God seems to forsake Joseph, as the cupbearer forgets him. But timing is everything. Subsequently Joseph will have the opportunity to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. This will cause Pharaoh to exalt him above all others in the Egyptian kingdom. It will enable God to accomplish His purposes through the Exile and the Exodus of the Hebrew people.
That’s the point. God has a view that we don’t have. He knows the end from the beginning, because He isn’t subject to time and space as we are. He knows all that people will do – the various choices they’ll make – and He turns their hearts as necessary to achieve His ends.
Joseph had no clue that his life was part of a much larger picture that God was painting. What seemed to be a terrible fate resulted in greater blessings for Joseph. More than that, his circumstances determined the destiny of God’s chosen people and the ultimate creation of the nation of Israel.
All because Joseph was faithful and obedient to Yahweh.
If we are walking that same path of righteousness and bad things happen to us, we should probably take a different perspective than what the world tells us.. Just as God was with Joseph in the midst of difficulties and challenges and saw him through to even better circumstances than he’d previously enjoyed, so He will do with us.